Govt toughens checks on student visas
The Australian Associated Press, April 27, 2010
The federal government has strengthened measures aimed at cracking down on abuse of the student visa program.
Authorities have been given increased powers to cancel visas while rules governing the assessment of students studying more than one course have also been strengthened.
Addressing the American Chamber of Commerce in Perth, Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the changes strike the right balance between making the visa process easier for genuine students while imposing additional checks on those who may seek to abuse the system.
Students studying more than one course will now be required to meet a higher level of risk assessment within their package of courses.
'This measure will help reduce fraud by ensuring students are not able to select courses they do not intend to complete, simply to receive a more favourable risk assessment level,' Senator Evans said.
Changes have also been made to migration regulations to strengthen the visa cancellation guidelines where a student is found to have deferred or suspended their studies for non-genuine reasons.
'International students who are genuinely experiencing difficult circumstances will still be able to take temporary leave from their studies,' Senator Evans said.
'However, my department now has an improved capacity to verify students' claims where there are not compassionate or compelling reasons for deferral or suspension.'
There are also new rules aimed at streamlining visa requirements for prospective postgraduate students from all countries.
'This will enable postgraduate research sector applicants to lodge applications using the eVisa facility and support growth in this sector,' Senator Evans said.
'This decision is based on the low level of fraud and high level of compliance with visa conditions in the sector.'