November 24, 2013

485-Visa-Granted-2014The Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa offers a great opportunity for recently graduated international students to gain valuable work experience after completing their studies. This work experience helps develop the skills graduates gained during their studies and also makes them more employable upon return to their home country.
It is important to note that applicants need to meet a number of eligibility requirements to be granted the temporary graduate visa. And if the visa is granted, temporary graduate visa holders are responsible for finding their own employment.
Applying for this visa
485-Visa-StatisticsMany international students make a decision to apply for the temporary graduate visa upon completion of their studies. Graduates can apply for this visa up to six months after completion of their studies.
There is no guarantee that, on the basis of having previously held a student visa, the applicant will meet the requirements to be granted a temporary graduate visa.
Any decision to apply for a temporary graduate visa is an entirely separate process to a student visa application. Depending on their individual circumstances, applicants may be eligible to apply for a temporary graduate visa through either the graduate work stream or the post-study work stream.
For information on the eligibility requirements for the temporary graduate visa, check out the Who Can Apply tab on the Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa webpage.
Finding a job
The temporary graduate visa allows recent graduates to spend time in Australia to gain practical work experience to accompany their Australian qualification(s). There are no restrictions on the type of employment that the temporary graduate visa holder may choose to undertake.
It is important to note that finding a job is the responsibility of the temporary graduate visa holder. The Australian government is not responsible for arranging employment—there are many organisations which offer assistance in job seeking, including through the Australian Government’s JobSearch website.
For further information on latest labour market test (LMT) information on selected 457 visa occupations please contact www.visaagency-australia.com or write to migration@inteducation.com
If you are interested in Australian visas, contact International Education Agency – Australia (IEAA)  for information and advice on which visa is best suited to you. You can also try our migration services to see if you are eligible to apply for a visa to Australia.

November 24, 2013

labour_market_testingLabour Market Testing (LMT) for the Australian subclass 457 visa programme has begun and further details of how it will work have now been issued by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

All applications from 23 November will be subject to the new LMT rules but those lodged before this date will be unaffected.
The Government has sought to moderate the impact on Australian employers, and has consulted widely with industry prior to introduction of the new system.
The impact of Labour Market Testing will be limited to selected occupations only. Employers sponsoring for 457 visas in most occupations will not be affected.
There are also generous exemptions for transfers of employees from subsidiaries in the Asia-Pacific region.
For employers who do not fall within one of the above exemptions, Labour Market Testing will involve an extra administrative step which could cause delay and additional expense in obtaining the necessary 457 visa.
Please contact us if you would like to discuss how the new labour market testing requirement will affect your business.
Which occupations will be affected?
In terms of exemptions, the majority of skill level one and two occupations, generally those requiring a degree or a diploma, will be exempt. But engineers, nurses and trades such as cabinet makers, boat makers, wood machinist, fitters, welders, plumbers and bricklayers are included.
Exemptions due to trade obligations include applicants who are citizens of New Zealand, Chile and Thailand. Applicants who are employed by an associated business in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) could also be exempt.
Labour Market Testing will only be required for the following types of occupations:

  • Trade occupations (ie requiring an apprenticeship or completion of the equivalent of an Australian Certificate IV)
  • Technical occupations (ie requiring a Certificate IV)
  • Engineers
  • Nurses

Which occupations are exempted?

  • Labour Market Testing will NOT be required for:
  • Most Management Positions
  • Most Professional Occupations
  • Most Associate Professional Positions (requiring a diploma level qualification)
  • The main exception to the above are people working in the engineering and nursing fields.

 
Other Exemptions to Labour Market Testing
Even if the occupation is on the LMT list, exemptions from labour market testing apply where:

  • The applicant is a citizen of Chile or Thailand, or a citizen or permanent resident of New Zealand;
  • Where the employee already works for an associated entity of the sponsor in Chile, New Zealand or an ASEAN country (Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand or Vietnam);
  • Where the employee has worked full time for the nominating business for the last 2 years;
  • Where the business operates in a WTO member country and is seeking to sponsor senior management staff to work in Australia; or
  • Where workers are required to respond to a major disaster

457 visa rules
The new rules require employers to test the local labour market before seeking to employ an overseas worker on a subclass 457 visa.
The government said that it believes it is adopting a sensible approach to the implementation of the new rules requiring employers to test the local labour market before seeking to employ an overseas worker on a subclass 457 visa.
But the rules are not as rigorous as they might have been under the previous government, most notably there is no minimum requirement for the length of time a job has to be advertised within Australia.
Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Michaelia Cash, said that labour market testing is a requirement of the Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Act 2013 which was introduced by the previous government and passed by the previous Parliament in June. The current government does not believe that there was adequate consultation.
‘The government is committed to ensuring that the subclass 457 programme acts as a supplement to, and not a substitute for Australian workers. The government fully supports the principle that Australian workers have priority, but to bind employers up in needless red tape will only stymie Australian business and cost Australian jobs over the long run,’ explained Cash.
She announced that highly skilled occupations will be exempt from the LMT requirement and employers can advertise positions on their own company websites and on social media. Businesses that are part of a Labour Agreement will also be exempt from the requirements.
Labour market testing will apply to mainly technical and trade occupations available for sponsorship under the subclass 457 visa programme. Cash explained that exemptions will also apply in a small number of cases in which labour market testing would conflict with Australia’s international trade obligations.  The Act also allows for the minister to declare exemptions in the event of a major disaster, in order to allow overseas disaster relief and recovery workers to enter Australia unimpeded.
She also said that the LMT implementation should be done in a practical way which accounts for its impact on Australian businesses and Australian workers alike.
How Must Labour Market Testing Be Conducted?
If required, Labour Market Testing will in general involve advertising the position and indicating why no suitable applicants were found from the Australian labour pool.
Labour Market Testing must have been done for the occupation at some stage in the 12 months prior to application. However, if staff have been made redundant in the occupation within the last 4 months, Labour Market Testing must be done after the redundancies have occurred.
Information provided in a Department of Immigration FAQ sheet indicates that advertising of positions via social media, company websites and other free means are perfectly acceptable ways to meet the Labour Market Testing requirement.
Alternatively, employers can provide:

  • Labour Market Research;
  • Support letters from government employment agencies; or
  • Details of the business participating in job and career expos

For further information on latest labour market test (LMT) information on selected 457 visa occupations please contactwww.visaagency-australia.comor write tomigration@inteducation.com
If you are interested in Australian visas, contact International Education Agency – Australia (IEAA)  for information and advice on which visa is best suited to you. You can also try ourmigration services to see if you are eligible to apply for a visa to Australia.

 

November 15, 2013

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The student visa program enables overseas students to come to Australia to undertake full-time study in registered courses.

When processing applications, the department ensures:

·         transparency in the requirements to be granted a student visa

·         consistency in decision-making

·         integrity of the student visa program by using objective measures of risk to determine visa requirements.

Eligibility

Before applying for a student visa, students must have been accepted for full-time study in a registered course in Australia.

A registered course is an accredited education or training course listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) and offered by an Australian education provider registered to offer courses to overseas students.
See:CRICOS

Applying for a student visa

Students must apply for a visa in the sector that relates to their main course of study:

·         Independent English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS) sector (subclass 570) visa

·         Schools sector (subclass 571) visa

·         Vocational Education and Training sector (subclass 572) visa

·         Higher Education sector (subclass 573) visa

·         Postgraduate Research sector (subclass 574) visa

·         Non-award sector (subclass 575) visa

·         AusAID and Defence sector (subclass 576) visa.

Generally, only students subject to Assessment Level 1 or students eligible for streamlined visa processing may be granted their first student visa while they are in Australia. Other students may only be able to obtain their first student visa while they are in Australia under exceptional circumstances.
See: Student Visa Program—Assessment Levels (formerly known as Form 1219i) (144KB PDF file)

Students who already have a student visa to study in Australia, but want to change their main course of study to one in a different education sector must apply for a new student visa in the education sector appropriate to their new main course of study.
See:Applying for a student visa (formerly known as Form 1160i) (128KB PDF file)

Assessment factors and streamlined visa processing

Students must provide evidence to satisfy the assessment criteria that apply to them before they can be granted a student visa. This may include evidence that they have the financial capacity to cover living costs in Australia—tuition fees, travel costs and capacity to support any family members. Applicants must also satisfy criteria for proficiency in English, level of education and other matters such as the potential to breach visa conditions.

The evidence required for these criteria varies according to the student visa applicant’s assessment level. Assessment Level 1 represents the lowest evidentiary requirements and Assessment Level 5 represents the highest.
See: Student Visa Program—Assessment Levels (formerly known as Form 1219i) (144KB PDF file)

Streamlined visa processing is available for prospective international students with a confirmation of enrolment (CoE) from a participating university at bachelor, masters or doctoral degree level. Student visa applicants who are eligible for streamlined visa processing are not subject to assessment levels.
See: The university sector streamlined visa processing( 80KB PDF file)

All students and accompanying family members must meet character and health requirements and obtain overseas student health cover (OSHC) for the duration of their visa. Students from Belgium, Norway and Sweden may not need OSHC if they have acceptable health cover offered by those countries.

Passport holders from certain countries may be entitled to Medicare, however it is still a requirement for overseas students to obtain OSHC for the duration of their stay in Australia while on a student visa.
See:Health insurance for students 

Course packaging

Students may ‘package’ their studies to combine a preliminary course with their main course of study on the one student visa. The subclass that applies to the package would be the one that corresponds to the main course of study. The student’s assessment level is based on the package of courses they are studying.
See: Course packaging

Visa conditions

Permission to work

Students and their dependent family members who were granted a student visa on or after 26 April 2008 have permission to work.
See:New permission to work arrangement for student visa holders(58KB PDF file)

Students and dependent family members who were granted a student visa before 26 April 2008 and have not yet applied for permission to work may only apply for permission to work after they have started their course in Australia.
See:How to apply for permission to work

Students and their dependent family members with permission to work must not undertake work until the main student visa holder has started their course in Australia. They are limited to 40 hours work per fortnight while their course is in session, but may work unlimited hours during formal holiday periods. Holders of a Postgraduate Research (subclass 574) visa who have started their course have unrestricted permission to work.

Student visa holders found to be working in excess of their limited work rights  may be subject to visa cancellation.

Family members’ permission to work

Family members who have permission to work can work up to 40 hours per fortnight once the main student visa holder has started the course of study.

Where students are on a Higher Education (subclass 573) visa, Postgraduate (subclass 574) or AusAID and Defence (subclass 576) visa and have started a masters or doctorate course, any family member who has permission to work can do so for unlimited hours.

No extension of stay

Most Assessment Level 3 and all Assessment Level 4 students (except those in the schools sector) undertaking a course or courses of 10 months duration or less, are subject to a ‘Further Stay Restricted’ condition. This condition generally prevents students from extending their stay in Australia, although they may apply for a Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa or a student visa with permission to work or a student visa with permission to work.

If an Assessment Level 3 student provides evidence of funds to cover a further 12 month stay, the ‘Further Stay Restricted’ condition is no longer mandatory.

Students who are sponsored by the Australian Government, or the government of their home country, may also be subject to a ‘Further Stay Restricted’ condition. They will only be able to extend their studies in Australia if the sponsoring government gives written consent.

Change of address

Students must inform their education provider of their current residential address within seven days of arrival and of any change of address in Australia within seven days of the change. Students must also notify their current provider of any change of enrolment to a new provider.

Family members

Family members aged 18 years or over may only study for up to three months. If they want to undertake a course of study that exceeds three months, they must apply for a student visa in their own right.

School-age family members, children aged 5–18 years, who join the student in Australia for more than three months must attend school. The student must meet any associated education or tuition costs for that child.

A student’s child aged 18 years or over cannot apply for a student visa as a family member. If they want to study in Australia, they must apply for a student visa in their own right.

Student Guardian (subclass 580) visa

Where students are under 18 years of age, it is possible for a parent or relative to apply for a student guardian visa to accompany them to Australia. The student guardian visa allows that person to stay in Australia to care for the student until they turn 18. A student guardian does not have permission to work while in Australia.

Statistics

The student visa program report is a quarterly statistical publication that provides data on the student visa program administered by the department. This report will be a valuable resource for anyone who has an interest in the international student sector.
See:Student visa statistics

Further information for students

The Education Services for Overseas Student Act 2000 provides important safeguards for overseas students in Australia. The Act regulates the activities of education providers delivering education and training to international students by setting standards and providing tuition and financial assurance.
See:Australian Education International

If students choose to work part-time while studying in Australia they have the same work rights as Australian permanent residents and citizens. For more information and advice about conditions of employment in Australia students can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman.
See:Fair Work Ombudsman

Further information is available on the department’s website.
See:www.immi.gov.au

The department also operates a national general enquiries line.
Telephone:131 881
Hours of operation:Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm. Recorded information is available outside these hours.

Fact Sheet 50 – Overseas Students in Australia

Produced by the National Communications Branch, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Canberra.  Last reviewed April 2013.

November 7, 2013
November 7, 2013

THE Abbott government yesterday moved to loosen visa restrictions to attract international students, prompting calls for increased funding for regulators to ensure there was no return to the “visa factory” that marked the height of the 2008-09 higher education boom.

From next year, tougher restrictions on students from countries with the highest risk of visa fraud will be scrapped, effectively reducing the cash such applicants are required to have in the bank to support themselves during their study.

The government has also fast-tracked a decision to extend streamlined visa processing beyond the university sector to 22 TAFEs and private providers that deliver bachelor degrees and higher qualifications.

The government wants to boost international student revenue from about $15 billion last year back to the former peak of almost $19bn. “The changes will assist all providers, but particularly the vocational education and training sector, making access to Australia’s education system more attractive for overseas students,” Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said.

TAFE Directors Australia’s head of international engagement Peter Holden welcomed the move, noting that the previous Labor government had not acted on a vow to extend streamlined processing, instead sitting on a decision for 18 months.

Mr Holden said he was disappointed that it remained limited to bachelor degree- and higher-qualification students, noting that public TAFEs should be trusted to monitor students doing sub-degree programs.

He said the loosening of restrictions should be matched by more resources for the Australian Skills Quality Authority to adequately monitor the sector. “We would be looking to ASQA to maintain, if not increase their surveillance.” Phil Honeywood, head of the International Education Association of Australia, also urged the government to extend the streamlined system to reputable vocational providers offering diplomas and certificates.

He was confident that scrutiny on degree-granting providers was sufficient, but extending streamlined processing to students undertaking diplomas and certificates would need to be backed by sufficient monitoring.

Adrian McCoomb, head of the Council of Private Higher Education, was delighted, saying that under Labor it had been a “debacle” trying to get approval for private providers to compete for international students on equal terms with universities.

Opposition higher education spokesman Kim Carr said the government should be cautious. “The advice provided to me during my time as minister was that the quality of the companies operating in this area varied considerably and that unsustainable levels of international students can lead to further questions about the quality of education.”

Source: ANDREW TROUNSON,  THE AUSTRALIAN  OCTOBER 30, 2013 

November 7, 2013

The number of visa applications granted for overseas students to study in Australia has increased by approximately 4% marking the second year in a row of growth for the sector.

Numbers had previously been falling but the financial year 2012/2013 has seen figures rise with the previous year of 290,761 applications lodged compared with 280,003, according to data from the annual Student Visa Programme Trends report.

In the second quarter of 2013, approximately 93% of visa applications assessed during this period were granted a visa.

The report shows that student visa numbers have returned to a sustainable growth over the last two years and this is part of a broader trend throughout the past 10 years.

The report states that this growth has been driven by applications lodged outside of Australia which increased by 11.1% in the same period and there were 304,251 student visa holders in Australia as of 30 June 2013. Of these visa holders, 23.4% were from China, the largest cohort, followed by 10% from India.

During the June 2013 quarter, 75% of all student visas were processed within 30 days, while 50% were processed within 14 days. About 93% of applications assessed during this period were granted a visa.

International students must have a valid visa for the duration of their studies in Australia. Most international students will need a student visa. However, visitor visas permit up to three months study and working holiday maker visas permit up to four months study.

To be eligible for a student visa, applicants must be accepted for full time study in a course listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS.) Applicants must also meet financial, health insurance, English language proficiency and character requirements.

There is no limit on the number of student visas issued each year. If applicants meet requirements, they will be granted a student visa. Student visas are issued for the entire period of study in Australia. Visas are issued in alignment with the period for which the applicant has Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC.)

There are two other visas related to the student visa programme, the Student Guardian (subclass 580) visa and the Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa. The Student Guardian visa is for individuals who wish to accompany and care for minors studying in Australia. The Temporary Graduate visa allows international students to live and work in Australia temporarily after they have finished their studies.

Student visas include a condition that, once the course has commenced, allows most students to work for up to 40 hours per fortnight while their course is in session and for unlimited hours during course breaks.

There can be some confusion about working hours but students are urged to make sure that they know what they are permitted to do. ‘The limitation imposed by this visa condition reflects the purpose of a student visa; that it is to allow entry to Australia in order to study, not to work. Secondary visa holders are subject to a visa condition that limits them to 40 hours work per fortnight at any time,’ said an immigration spokesman.

April 11, 2012

The changes to the permanent employer sponsored visas (ENS and RSMS) coming in on 1 July 2012 are quite significant. One of the main intentions behind the changes to the ENS/RSMS programs is to streamline the process of applying for permanent residence whilst holding a 457 visa.

People will be affected differently by the new changes depending on their circumstances. This article goes through the main winners under the new system.

ENS/RSMS Eligibility Streams

The requirements for ENS and RSMS vary depending on which “eligibility stream” you apply under from 1 July. To appreciate the impact of the changes, it’s important to have an understanding of the eligibility streams:

Temporary Residence Transition:

where applicants have worked with the employer on a 457 visa for the last 2 years. Applicants in this category have a streamlined pathway onto permanent residence through ENS and RSMS from 1 July.

Direct Entry Stream:

for applicants who have not worked in Australia, or who have worked in Australia on a visa other than a 457 visa. Criteria for these applicants are higher – for ENS they must have a skills assessment and 3 years of work experience in their occupation, and RSMS applicants must get approval from a Regional Certifying Body and may also require skills assessment.

Agreement Stream:

for applicants whose employer has a Labour Agreement. Labour agreements are special arrangements individually negotiated with the Department of Immigration, and allow sponsorship in a wider range of occupations and are required for the “on-hire” or “labour hire” industry.

1. People on 457 visas in non-ENS occupations

There are many people on 457 visas who have been sponsored in an occupation which is not on the current ENS Occupations List.

Examples of such occupations include:

  • Cafe or Restaurant Manager
  • Customer Service Managers
  • Various IT specialisations
  • Intermediate service managers (eg
  • Divers and Diving Instructors
  • Farmers

People sponsored for 457 visas in these occupations are currently on a “road to nowhere” – they can stay in Australia on 457 visas, but have limited options in applying for permanent residence.

From 1 July 2012, there will be a single consolidated list of occupations which applies to 457, ENS and State/Territory Sponsored Skilled Visas.

As a result, people already on a 457 visa will be able to look at an ENS visa once they have worked with their employer on a 457 visa in their occupation for 2 years, even if their occupation is not on the current ENS list.

2. Applicants between 45 and 50 years of Age

The age limit for ENS and RSMS visas will increase from 45 to 50 from 1 July 2012.

As a result, applicants between 45 and 50 will be able to qualify for an ENS or RSMS visa without needing to show Exceptional Circumstances.

3. Applicants over 60 years on 457 visas

Under current arrangements, it is extremely difficult for applicants aged over 60 to obtain an ENS or RSMS visa. Under current DIAC policy, applicants must show that they will make a significant economic contribution to Australia and have a very high salary level ($213,000 or more).

From 1 July 2012, applicants who have worked for their employer for the last 4 years on a 457 visa and who have a salary of over $118,000 should be eligible for an exemption to the age requirement.

This will make it far more possible for applicants over 60 to qualify for migration under the Employer Nomination Scheme.

 

March 23, 2012

 

The international education sector is one of Australia’s largest export industries and is important to Australia in supporting bilateral ties with key partner countries, supporting employment in a broad range of occupations throughout the Australian economy, as well as delivering high-value skills to the economy.

In December 2010, the Australian Government appointed the Hon Michael Knight AO to conduct the first strategic review of the student visa program to help enhance the quality, integrity and competitiveness of the student visa program.

On 7 March 2011, Mr Knight released a discussion paper and encouraged interested parties to make a written submission to the review.
See: Student Visa Program Review Discussion Paper (212KB PDF file)

There were 200 submissions received and they are available on the department’s website.
See: Submissions Received by the Review Team

Report released

Mr Knight reported to the government on 30 June 2011 with 41 recommendations. On 22 September 2011, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, and Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations, Senator Chris Evans, released Mr Knight’s report, Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program 2011.
See: Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program 2011 (1.7MB PDF file)

Government’s response

The government supports in principle all of Mr Knight’s recommendations, however some recommendations will be modified in places to enhance the performance of the Australian education sector and to better safeguard the integrity of the visa system.
See: Boost to International Education Sector in Response to Knight Review – Media release

The fact sheet on the Government Response to the Knight Review of the Student Visa Program is available on the department’s website.
See: Fact Sheet – Government Response to the Knight Review of the Student Visa Program ( 72KB PDF file)

All of Mr Knight’s recommendations are available, as well as the actual or planned implementation dates.
See: Knight Review of the Student Visa Program—Recommendations with Expected Implementation Date

Stage one implementation

Stage one implementation of the Knight Review changes commenced on 5 November 2011. The following fact sheet details these changes.
See:
Fact Sheet – Stage One Implementation of the Knight Review Changes to the Student Visa program ( 66KB PDF file)
Students to Benefit as Knight Review Changes Rolled Out – Media release

Stage two implementation

The majority of the stage two Knight Review changes commenced on 24 and 26 March 2012. This includes streamlined visa processing for certain university applicants from 24 March 2012. Other stage two Knight Review changes are proposed to commence later in 2012 and in early 2013.
See:
Fact Sheet – Stage Two Implementation of the Knight Review Changes to the Student Visa Program ( 68KB PDF file)
Changes to Boost International Education – Media Release

One of the recommendations agreed to by government is the introduction of new post-study work arrangements, which are planned to come into effect in 2013.

On 30 November 2011, the government announced plans to extend eligibility of the post-study work visa. In addition to university graduates, the new post-study work arrangements are to be extended to Bachelor, Masters by coursework, Masters by research and PhD degree graduates from other education providers accredited to offer degree level programs in Australia.

The government also announced that graduates must complete their qualifications as a result of meeting the Australian study requirement which requires at least two academic years’ study in Australia.
See:
Government Extends Support for International Education – Media Release
Australian Study Requirement

To address recommendation 24 of the Knight Review, the government has recently introduced a Bill into Parliament that proposes to cease the automatic cancellation of student visas. 
See: Improvements for Existing Student Visa Holders ( 76KB PDF file)

Discussion paper on the Review of the Student Visa Assessment Level Framework (Recommendation 32)

Comments on the discussion paper on the Review of the Student Visa Assessment Level Framework closed on 16 March 2012.
See: Discussion Paper on the Review of the Student Visa AL Framework (201KB PDF file)

Frequently asked questions

The following information package provides further detail on the Knight Review changes to the student visa program.
See:
The University Sector – Streamlined Processing ( 88KB PDF file)
Post-Study Work Arrangements ( 75KB PDF file)
Genuine Temporary Entrant Requirement ( 94KB PDF file)
Vocational Education and Training (VET), Schools and Non-Award Sectors ( 87KB PDF file)
English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) Sector ( 76KB PDF file)
Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Sector ( 79KB PDF file)
More Flexible Work Conditions ( 68KB PDF file)
Improvements for Existing Student Visa Holders ( 76KB PDF file)
Visa Processing Improvements ( 75KB PDF file)
Education Visa Consultative Committee (EVCC) ( 49KB PDF file)
Review of Assessment Level Framework ( 62KB PDF file)

See also: 
Review of Assessment Level Framework – Terms of Reference ( 59KB PDF file)
List of External Reference Group Members – Revi
ew of Assessment Level Framework

 

March 23, 2012

 

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, today announced key changes to the student visa program recommended by the Knight Review will commence from 24 March, as part of the government’s commitment to position Australia as a preferred study destination for international students.

‘International education plays a vital role in a growing economy, educational outcomes and Australia’s diplomatic engagement with other countries, so it’s important that we give it the best possible support,’ Mr Bowen said.

‘From 24 March, we are implementing streamlined visa processing arrangements for prospective students enrolled in Bachelor, Masters or Doctoral degrees at participating universities, making the application process simpler and faster.’

In recognition of these institutions’ track record, university students — regardless of their country of origin — will be treated as though they are lower risk and will need to submit less evidence in support of their visa application, similar to the current assessment level (AL) 1.

‘Universities in Australia have embraced the opportunity to sign up to the arrangements, which are expected to help boost international enrolments for semester two 2012 and beyond,’ Mr Bowen said.

From 26 March, the government will provide more flexible work conditions for all student visa holders, which will also provide more flexibility for their employers.

In recognition of the importance of the higher degree by research sector, the government will also allow postgraduate research (subclass 574) visa holders to work an unlimited amount of hours per week once their course has commenced, which will mean they can engage in employment related to their research.

Other Knight Review changes to be implemented from 24 March include:

Improved access to English language study for schools sector visa applicants and for student guardian visa holders

Removal of the requirement for higher risk schools sector visa applicants to provide evidence of an English language proficiency test.

In line with the Knight Review recommendations, the minister today introduced legislation to Parliament to abolish the automatic visa cancellation process for international students.

The Student Legislation Amendment (Student Visas) Bill will reduce complexity and uncertainty for students and provide for fairer, more efficient monitoring and compliance processes.

 

Thursday, 22 March 2012

March 12, 2012

 

The government will replace the six employer sponsored permanent visa programs with two simplified categories.

The Australian Government has announced plans to make it easier for skilled migrants to become permanent Australian residents.

The Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says the changes will simplify the process for people who hold 457 visas which give temporary work rights, to apply for the permanent employer-sponsored visa program.

From July this year, overseas workers in the 457 category won’t have to have a second skills test and English test to become eligible for residency.

But the changes will tighten the application process for people who apply for permanent visas without having worked in Australia already.

Mr Bowen says applicants seeking direct entry to Australia will first be expected to sit a basic English test .

“Particularly remembering these people are often living in regional Australia, where perhaps the level of access to English training might not be as extensive as it would be in capital cities, and they will be working in occupations that will require a good level of English in any event,” he said.

Mr Bowen says the government will also replace the six employer sponsored permanent visa programs with two simplified categories.

He says the changes will help deal with critical skills shortages in some industries.

The chief executive of the Australian Federation of Employers and Industries, Gary Brack, told Radio Australia the streamlined process could help alleviate labor supply shortages in some sectors.

“One of the most important aspects of this is the speed with which you can actually make the transition,” he said.

“Employers get caught short in the market if they can’t recruit somebody. A lot of them are desperate to get people at a particular time. So if it can be expedited in the way that it’s been discussed, then that will certainly be advantageous.”

Ged Kearney, the president of Australia’s peak union body, the ACTU, says while the changes would have distinct advantages for overseas workers, it must not undermine the ability for local workers to obtain those jobs.

She told Radio Australia there is a possibility that migrant workers could be exploited by their employers under the planned changes.

“We would not like to see a situation where the overseas worker’s still bonded to an employer simply because they have been encouraged to hang on – maybe in sub-standard terms and conditions or sub-standard wages et cetera, with the promise that if you work for less money, or work for less conditions, we can now get you permanent residency,” she said.

The Opposition says the government should go further with its attempts to cut red tape for skilled migration.

The Coalition’s immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says the government should also reintroduce the immigration concessions that were scrapped in 2009.

“The government abolished the regional concessions for 457s when they came to government ,which was a major and important program for particularly small and regional business,” he said.

“The government has not restored those concessions.”

 

The new system will operate from July 1.

 

Source: Reuters – Anna Henderson and Girish Sawlani, Canberra Fri, 9 Mar 2012

February 16, 2012

The changes are in response to the immigration department’s 2011 review of student visa assessment level settings.

INTERNATIONAL students will more easily be able to apply for visas following changes announced by Federal Immigration and Citizenship Minister, Chris Bowen.

The changes, welcomed by the higher education sector, mean the number of assessment levels across a range of student visa subclasses will be reduced, making the visa application process easier for students from 29 countries.

The changes, which will take effect from March 24, are in response to the immigration department’s 2011 review of student visa assessment level settings.

“While it was recommended that some assessment levels be increased, I have decided to only implement the reductions in order to best support Australia’s international education sector,” Mr Bowen said.

Mr Bowen said the changes would help around 10,500 prospective students.

“These changes will particularly benefit the postgraduate research sector, English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students and vocational education and training providers.”

For example, South Koreans studying VET and ELICOS courses and postgraduate research students from China, India and Indonesia will now find it easier to apply for visas, Mr Bowen said.

Universities Australia welcomed the changes to the student visa system as “a terrific outcome”.

“It really is a terrific outcome not just for the higher education sector but for the Australian economy more broadly because at a time we’re seeing manufacturing struggling, tourism struggling, both primarily because of the strong Australian dollar, it’s really important for those industries that are strong to be able to step up to offset some of those economic implications,” said Universities Australia chief executive, Belinda Robinson.

“The international education sector is Australia’s third largest export industry, and over the 2010-11 period international higher education students spent an average of $38,000 each in this country on goods, services and fees.

“And as well the stronger our international education industry is, the more affordable education is for Australian students.”

Meanwhile a new report released by ranking provider QS (Quacquarelli Symonds Limited) found Australian cities are among the most attractive study destinations in the world.

Using scores that take into account student mix, affordability, quality of living and employer activity, as well as their own QS World University Rankings, the company compiled a top fifty list of the ”best student cities”.

Ms Robinson said that according to QS, Australia had more cities than any other country in the world listed in the top 50, making it one of the world’s most favourable study environments.

If “affordability” was removed as a criterion, Melbourne and Sydney would be ranked at number 1 and 4 respectively.

“While it may be a little more expensive to live and study in Australia, the quality of living, employment opportunities, student mix and the quality of universities makes Australia a very appealing place for those seeking to study abroad,” Ms Robinson said.

Source: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au 16 February 2012

February 15, 2012
February 15, 2012


1                     The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, today announced the Government will make the visa application process easier for students from 29 countries by reducing assessment levels across a range of student visa subclasses from 24 March.

The changes are in response to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s (DIAC) 2011 review of student visa assessment level settings, which recommended that a number of assessment levels be changed. 

“While it was recommended that some assessment levels be increased, I have decided to only implement the reductions in order to best support Australia’s international education sector,” Mr Bowen said.

“Lowering the minimum evidentiary requirement for the grant of a student visa for selected countries and visa subclasses is expected to help around 10,500 prospective students.

“These changes will particularly benefit the postgraduate research sector, English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) and vocational education and training (VET) providers.”

For example, South Koreans studying VET and ELICOS courses and postgraduate research students from China, India and Indonesia will now find it easier to apply for visas.

“The reduction in assessment levels builds on the measures implemented as a result of the Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program, undertaken by the Hon Michael Knight AO, to ensure Australia remains an attractive study option for overseas students,” Mr Bowen said. 

Assessment levels are an important tool in managing the student visa program, as they ensure the efficient delivery of services to a diverse range of students while supporting the integrity of Australia’s immigration program.

Assessment levels align visa requirements to the immigration risk posed by students from every country and in each education sector. They are regularly reviewed and amended to accurately reflect the risk posed by a student cohort.

Those countries and sectors that were recommended to be subject to an increase in assessment levels will be placed on notice and reviewed as part of any future reforms to the risk management framework. 

More information on the reductions to student visa assessment levels can be found at www.immi.gov.au/students/student-visa-assessment-levels.htm

2                     Reduction of Certain Student Visa Assessment Levels

Reductions in Student visa assessment levels for 29 countries for certain Student visa subclasses was announced by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship on 15 February 2012. These reductions will take effect on 24 March 2012.

These changes will lower the minimum evidentiary requirements needed for the grant of a Student visa for certain countries and education sectors.

The following is a list of countries and Student visa subclasses affected by the assessment level decreases which will take effect on 24 March 2012.

Country of Citizenship

Education Sector

Updated Assessment Levels

Belize

Subclass 572 – VET

AL2

Bhutan

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Botswana

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL1

Botswana

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL1

Bulgaria

Subclass 570 – ELICOS

AL1

Bulgaria

Subclass 572 – VET

AL1

Bulgaria

Subclass 573 – Higher Ed

AL1

Bulgaria

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL1

China, Peoples Republic of

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Ecuador

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Egypt

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

India

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Indonesia

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL1

Indonesia

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Jordan

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL2

Kazakhstan

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Kazakhstan

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL2

Korea, South

Subclass 570 – ELICOS

AL1

Korea, South

Subclass 572 – VET

AL1

Latvia

Subclass 572 – VET

AL1

Lebanon

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL2

Lebanon

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Lebanon

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL3

Maldives

Subclass 570 – ELICOS

AL2

Maldives

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL1

Maldives

Subclass 573 – Higher Ed

AL1

Mauritius

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL1

Mexico

Subclass 572 – VET

AL1

Montenegro, Republic of

Subclass 570 – ELICOS

AL2

Montenegro, Republic of

Subclass 57
2 – VET

AL2

Montenegro, Republic of

Subclass 573 – Higher Ed

AL2

Montenegro, Republic of

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL2

Namibia

Subclass 573 – Higher Ed

AL2

Nepal

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Nicaragua

Subclass 570 – ELICOS

AL2

Nicaragua

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL2

Nicaragua

Subclass 572 – VET

AL2

Nicaragua

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL2

Philippines

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL1

Reunion

Subclass 572 – VET

AL1

Reunion

Subclass 573 – Higher Ed

AL1

Seychelles

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL1

Seychelles

Subclass 572 – VET

AL1

Seychelles

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL1

Suriname

Subclass 573 – Higher Ed

AL2

Suriname

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL2

Tanzania

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL2

Tanzania

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Turkey

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL2

Turkey

Subclass 572 – VET

AL2

Ukraine

Subclass 570 – ELICOS

AL2

Ukraine

Subclass 571 – Schools

AL2

Ukraine

Subclass 573 – Higher Ed

AL2

Ukraine

Subclass 574 – Post Grad Research

AL1

Ukraine

Subclass 575 – Non–Award

AL2

Venezuela

Subclass 572 – VET

AL1

3                     Frequently asked Questions

4 Q: I am an international student studying in Australia. Do these changes affect me?

A: These changes will only affect new Student visa applications made on or after 24 March 2012.

5 Q: What does a reduction of assessment levels mean to Student visa applicants?

A: Students affected by the changes will be required to provide less documentary evidence to support their claims for the grant of a Student visa. These may include evidence of English language proficiency, financial capacity and academic qualifications.

6 Q: Where can I find out more information about assessment levels?

A: Further information on assessment levels including a full list of current assessment levels is available on the department’s website.
See: Student Visa Assessment Levels

 

November 9, 2011

Australia  will be able to accept test scores from the alternative English language tests for Student visa applications for all countries lodged on or after 5 November 2011. In addition to IELTS test, the  acceptable alternative tests are:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL),
  • The Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic and
  • Academic and Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) from Cambridge ESOL for Student visa purposes.

 

All arrangements relating to IELTS test scores remain unchanged.  The TOEFL iBT, Pearson and Cambridge tests are simply alternatives to the IELTS test for Student visa purposes.  Implementing these alternative tests means Student visa applicants who are required to provide evidence of their English language proficiency will be able to choose from a wider range of English language tests providers.

Paper and eVisa application forms for Student visa applications have been updated to allow you to provide details about which English language test you take, and the results you received.

You must also provide the department with evidence of the test score you received.  The type of evidence you provide will depend on which English language test you take.  Your score will be verified by the department with the test provider.

Applicant may be required to provide additional information to allow the department to verify your English language test score with the test provider.  Please refer to each English language test provider’s website to confirm whether you will also be provided with a unique identifying code.  If you are provided with this code, you will need to provide it to the department.  To avoid delays in processing your application, you should provide the department with evidence of your test score as soon as possible.

The alternative English language tests will apply to Student visa applications:

  • lodged but not decided by 5 November 2011
  • lodged on or after 5 November 2011.

The Migration Regulations 1994 state that an English language proficiency test score is valid for two years from the date of the test.  If an applicant takes an English language proficiency test from one of the alternative providers before 5 November 2011 and achieves the required score, then they will be able to meet the English language requirement for their Student visa application.

Test score equivalencies for the alternative tests are provided below:

 

IELTS SCORE Band

4.0

4.5

5.0

5.5

6.0

6.5

7.0

7.5

8.0

8.5

9.0

Test of English as a Foreign Language internet based Test  (TOEFL iBT)

31

32

35

46

60

79

94

102

110

115

118

 

PTE Academic

29

30

36

42

50

58

65

73

79

83

86

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) from Cambridge ESOL test scores

32

36

41

47

52

58

67

74

80

87

93

 

The alternative English language tests only apply to Student visa applications at this stage.  The department will be reviewing the alternative tests for use with other visa program after 12 months of operation.

November 3, 2011
November 3, 2011

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, today announced businesses using the subclass 457 visa program can now gain access to priority processing and approval for six years under a new accreditation scheme.

‘This new scheme recognises that many Australian businesses have a long history of dealing with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and an excellent record of compliance with workplace and migration laws,’ Mr Bowen said.

‘From 7 November, these businesses will be able to seek accreditation that qualifies them for sponsorship approval of six years rather than the current three, as well as ensuring faster processing times for all future subclass 457 nominations and visa applications.’

Businesses will need to meet certain additional benchmarks to qualify for accredited status, including being an active 457 visa sponsor for the past three years and a commitment to ensuring at least 75 per cent of their domestic workforce is Australian.

‘While employers should first look to Australians to fill skill vacancies, the subclass 457 visa provides a fast and flexible process for the entry of overseas workers where they are needed to fill skill vacancies,’ Mr Bowen said.

‘The new accreditation scheme was developed in consultation with the Skilled Migration Consultative Panel, which includes representatives from major employer groups, unions and state governments.’

The 2011 KPMG Skilled Migration Survey of employers found that the subclass 457 visa program provided a flexible avenue to alleviate skill shortages in growth sectors such as the mining industry.

Use of the subclass 457 visa program is increasing, with 54 360 subclass 457 primary visas granted in 2010–11, an increase of 38.2 per cent compared to the same period the year before. The UK was the most popular source country, with 11 820 primary applicants granted visas.

The median processing time for a subclass 457 visa remains at a historically low level of 22 days.

Minister Bowen has announced that DIAC will introduce a Sponsorship Accreditation system from Monday 7 November 2011.

Employers can apply for Accredited Sponsor status to qualify for priority processing for Subclass 457 visa nominations and visa applications.

Accredited Sponsor status is valid for six years, unless it is revoked because the employer no longer meets the required criteria.

Accreditation status is for employers with have a long and positive history of dealing with the Department and an excellent record of compliance with workplace and migration laws.

Applications for Accredited Sponsor status are made in the same way as applications for approval as a Standard Business Sponsorship applications, online or using Form 1196S.

A company must meet all the following criteria to gain Accredited Sponsor status:

  • be a government agency, a publicly listed company, or a private company, with a minimum of $4 million turnover per year over the last three years;
  • have been an active Subclass 457 visa sponsor for the past three years (with a break of no more than six months, which was not due to any sanction);
  • have no adverse information known of it based on DIAC and DEEWR monitoring, including formal warnings and sanctions;
  • have had at least 30 primary Subclass 457 visa applications granted in the previous 12 months;
  • have lodged a high level of Decision Ready applications over the previous two years;
  • have a non-approval rate of less than three percent during the previous three years; and
  • have Australian workers comprising at least 75 percent of its workforce in Australia, and have made a commitment to maintain this level.

Information on sponsorship accreditation is on the DIAC website, with further information to be available on Monday 7 November.

October 3, 2011

 

Australia’s 39 universities are preparing for a brand new day in 2012: not only will government quotas on the number of local students they enrol be lifted, but they will also be able to recruit as many foreigners as they wish as a result of a new fast-track visa system.

In an unexpectedly generous move that surprised even sceptical vice-chancellors, the federal government decided to lift most restrictions on the issuing of student visas to overseas students applying for a university place, opening the way for a likely flood of new applications from China, India, Pakistan and other Asian countries.

Universities that agree to meet certain requirements regarding the students they admit will also have access to a new streamlined system that will speed up visa processing.

The government’s imposition of tighter visa rules two years ago was a reaction to dodgy college operators using vocational education courses as a front for their clients to obtain permanent residency visas. As tens of thousands of students enrolled in cooking and hairdressing courses in the hope of staying on after completion, a debate began to rage about Australia allowing relatively unskilled migrants with poor English into the country.

The stricter visa rules also applied to applicants seeking university places while, at the same time, the Australian dollar began rising sharply against the US dollar. These changes made obtaining a visa to study here harder and more expensive than in Canada or the US; and as the number of full-fee international students fell sharply, universities suddenly found a significant source of non-government income drying up.

In 2009, the estimated economic benefit to Australia of having nearly 500,000 fee-paying foreign students enrolled in schools, colleges and universities was AUD18 billion (US$18 billion); two years later this had fallen by AUD2 billion.

As vice-chancellor protests became louder, the government appointed a former New South Wales Labor government minister, Michael Knight, to review the situation.

In a 150-page report just released, Knight proposed a series of changes he claimed would boost the competitiveness of Australian universities in the global student marketplace. Although his 41 recommendations apply mostly to universities, the changes effectively give vice-chancellors almost total freedom to recruit as many foreign students as they want.

To the surprise of every higher education lobby group, the government accepted all the recommendations and promised to implement them before the start of second semester next year.

Among the changes expected to improve the attractiveness of Australian higher education is the scrapping of a rule requiring foreign students to prove they have enough money saved to allow them to study in the country for two years.

A student from China, by far Australia’s biggest source of international students, at present must have access to at least AUD100,000 to obtain a visa. From mid-2012, however, students will only need to declare they can afford to pay tuition and living costs. As well, those who graduate with at least a bachelor degree from a university will be able to stay on and work for up to four years and will not be tied to any particular occupation.

“All applicants will still be subject to basic requirements such as having health insurance and not being a security or health risk. And the Department of Immigration will reserve the right to look separately at applications from any group that poses a particular concern,” Knight says in his report.

“However, beyond those basic requirements, [the Department] will effectively take the university’s word that the student is suitable. Therefore universities can be confident their students will have their applications processed quickly.”

But Knight warns that “these substantial benefits” come with significant obligations: universities will be accountable for the visa outcomes of their students. If these outcomes are consistently poor, the university will be removed from the streamlined processing arrangements and prospective students will be processed under the existing rules.

Despite universities being subject to government “checks and balances and integrity measures” before gaining access to the new streamlined visa procedures, critics say the changes will open the doors to a new wave of foreign student workers who, after graduating, will compete with Australians for jobs and add to the thousands already seeking to stay on a permanent residents.

Monash University social scientist and demographer Dr Bob Birrell said past experience showed that thousands of students from poorer families who could not meet the costs of fees and living expenses were now likely to apply for university. Birrell, founder of Monash’s Centre for Population and Urban Research, said the result would be a significant influx of students seeking through a university education to gain access to the Australian labour market.

“We have had repeated examples of this in the past, starting with the English language college debacle of the late 1980s and more recently the vocational college debacle over cooks and hairdressers,” he said. “I’m amazed the Immigration Department has gone along with this because they know what happened in the past.”

Another critic, Peter Holden, said Knight’s decision to confine the changes to universities was against federal government policy, which wanted an integrated tertiary sector with a single regulatory body. “His old-school approach reinforces outdated stereotypes and elitist views of post-secondary education,” Holden said.

“Knight’s reasoning is that if things go off the rails it will be easier for the Department of Immigration to rein in universities because there are only 39 of them. This is not exactly a ringing endorsement of high quality and low risk. As Knight admits, universities are not perfect.”

Holden is director of international engagement for TAFE Directors Australia, the heads of the country’s public technical and further education colleges. Writing in The Australian newspaper’s higher education section, he said one in five students in Australia’s universities was from overseas – among the highest ratios in the world.

“For the whole public vocational education sector, including all qualification levels, the ratio is less than one in 27. In terms of stability, TAFE institutes are equally well-managed with high levels of accountability and transparency.

“The Knight review perpetuates the flawed impression the problem lies within the vocational education and training sector, as though it can be treated as one amorphous whole.”

Source: Geoff Maslen / 02 October 2011 / Issue: 191  /university world news

 

September 29, 2011

 

September 2011

International Education Agency-Australia, one of the largest education agent of Australia has welcomed the Government’s response to the Knight review into the student visa program, in particular steps to remove barriers for genuine higher education students to study in Australia.

The Australian federal government commissioned the Knight Review into the student visa program in Dec 2010 to investigate ways to make Australia more competitive whilst maintaining the integrity of the migration system and the quality of its education system.

This followed a steady downturn of international students choosing to study in Australia after changes to visa and migration policy in early 2010.

In June Michael Knight handed his report to the Government and on 22 September the Government, Senator Evans, Minister for Education, and Minister Bowen, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, released the report with the statement that they were accepting all 41 of Knight’s recommendations.

A number of significant changes are outlined below.

Changes to student visa eligibility and processing:

  • That all higher education students applying to study a bachelor degree or higher at a university or a packaged course, regardless of country of origin, will be treated as a student from an AL1 country. This means a change to a declaration of proof of funds and in many countries the ability to apply via the eVisa system which should significantly reduce the time taken to secure a student visa. English language courses and other preparatory course will also be included in this streamlined process.
  • Allowing English language students to apply for a visa without first meeting minimum English language skills requirements; and
  • The policy of Pre¬Visa Assessment will be discontinued.
  • That student visas be allowed to be granted in advance of four months before the commencement of the relevant course. Where necessary visas should specify a date before which the holder cannot enter Australia.

Changes to student work rights:

  • An enhanced post study work visa regime for international university graduates, particularly withdrawing skills assessment and the requirement to work in any particular occupation.
  • In addition the term of the post study work visa will increase from 18 to 24 months for undergraduates degrees, up to three years for Masters and four years for PhD.
  • That student work entitlements be measured as 40 hours per fortnight instead of 20 hours per week

Changes to be made regarding Agents:

  • That the necessary legislative changes be made to require the name of any agent involved to be entered into the student’s data into PRISMS.
  • That DEEWR take steps to encourage providers to voluntarily enter agent data into PRISMS in the interim before the ESOS Act is changed to make this mandatory.
  • That DIAC upgrade its liaison at overseas posts with migration and education agents in relation to the student visa program, including regular meetings to keep agents abreast of any changes in rules and procedures.

Changes to visa compliance and enforcement:

  • The mandatory cancellation requirement for unsatisfactory attendance, unsatisfactory progress and working in excess of the hours allowed should be removed, giving DIAC officers the discretion to determine cancellation in particular cases on their merits.
  • DIAC should concentrate its compliance and integrity resources in relation to student visas on the highest risk areas.
  • Automatic cancellation of student visas should be abolished and replaced by a system in which information conveyed by SCVs is used as an input into a more targeted and strategic analysis of non‐compliance.

The full list of 41 recommendations has been provided below.

One of the most significant changes is that the onus on judging student visa eligibility has been passed to universities and their partners, who will need to ensure that standards are maintained otherwise the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) reserves the right to strip institutions of their ability to streamline visa processing.

Other education providers such as Vocation Education institutions have not yet been granted the ability to streamline their visa processing like the universities but the government has highlighted plans to widen this option based on a provider risk assessment.

In accepting Knight’s recommendations the Australian government has also indicated that it plans to review the current Assessment Level system and take further steps to improve the current risk management framework.

The implementation timeframe for many of these changes is not yet established but the government has committed to having most changes operational by the commencement of the second semester in 2012.

 

Recommendations

Recommendation 1

That a new element be introduced into the eligibility criteria for a student visa. That new criterion will be to assess whether the applicant is a genuine temporary entrant. This new criterion should be the first to be considered in assessing any application for a student visa.

Recommendation 2

A successful applicant must be both a genuine temporary entrant and a genuine student.

Recommendation 3 – streamlined visa processing for universities

3.1 That all students in the categories set out below, irrespective of their country of origin

– but subject to the provisions in 3.5, 3.6 and 3.7 should be treated as though they are all AL1.

 

3.2 This treatment should apply to the following university student applicants:

  • Bachelor Degree;
  • 2 plus 2 (or 3 plus 1) arrangements with partner universities;
  • Masters Degree by Coursework.

3.3 The special treatment should not apply to:

  • short courses;
  • Associate Degree;
  • Graduate diploma;
  • Graduate certificate;
  • Diploma and Advanced Diploma;
  • non‐award courses (except as provided for in Recommendation 18);
  • the non‐university courses at the six universities which are dual sector (VET and university).

3.4 The benefits should also apply to courses which are explicitly packaged with an eligible university course at the time when the offer of university enrolment is made. This might include English language (ELICOS) and/or foundation or pathway courses in circumstances where non compliance by the student at any part of the package would be regarded as non‐compliance with the university enrolment.

3.5 The government should continue to require appropriate health checks, health insurance, character (predominantly criminal record/connections) and security checks.

3.6 The underlying DIAC powers in regard to every individual student application should continue to exist.

3.7 The government should also reserve the right to exclude certain high risk groups from the streamlined approach for university applicants. For example, the government might want to carefully assess all applicants from a persecuted minority group in a particular country. Applicants from such a group might have a huge incentive to apply for protection visas as soon as they reach Australia. The Australian Government may or may not wish to take such people on humanitarian grounds but that should be a separate decision and should not get mixed up with the process of granting visas for university students.

Recommendation 4 Post Study Work Rights

4.1 All graduates of an Australian university Bachelor degree, who have spent at least two academic years studying that degree in Australia, and who have complied with their visa conditions, should receive two years work rights.

4.2 All graduates of an Australian university Mast
ers by Coursework degree, who have studied that degree in Australia, and who have complied with their visa conditions, should receive two years work rights on successful completion of their course.

4.3 This should apply irrespective of the nature of the course (for example whether it be Arts or Engineering) and not be tied to working in any particular occupation.

4.4 The mechanism for taking up these work rights should be administratively very simple with the following components:

  • the university must notify that the course has been successfully completed. (This will be earlier than the formal graduation which could be many months after the course has been completed);
  • DIAC should not undertake any detailed, time consuming, assessment of the applicant;
  • the scheme must be one which can be marketed by the universities to prospective students as almost guaranteeing post study work rights.

Recommendation 5

That all Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students – visa subclass 574 ‐be treated as though they are all AL1 applicants.

Recommendation 6

That where any English language or other preparatory course is required by the Higher Degree by Research provider then the whole package still be treated as AL1.

Recommendation 7

That all Higher Degree by Research students be given unlimited work rights.

Recommendation 8

Masters by Research graduates should receive three years post‐study work rights and PhD graduates four years.

Recommendation 9

That the visa arrangements for Higher Degree by Research students be such that an extension for up to six months after submission of their thesis is available if needed during the interactive marking process.

Recommendation 10

That, provided the integrity measures relating to the revised criteria for a student visa are implemented (as set out in Recommendation 1), the threshold English language test requirements for stand alone ELICOS students be removed.

Recommendation 11

That the English language requirements for school students in AL4 be the same as those applying for AL1 through to AL3 and the associated waiver scheme abolished.

Recommendation 12

That the maximum period of time a school student visa holder can study English be 50 weeks across all ALs.

Recommendation 13

That the current restrictions on student guardians of a maximum of three months of study be maintained but unlimited part‐time study rights for ELICOS study only be allowed.

Recommendation 14

That pre‐paid homestay fees be included in financial assessments on the same basis as pre‐paid boarding fees.

Recommendation 15

That as a matter of some urgency AusAID, DIAC, DOHA and other relevant Australian government agencies develop an integrated policy in relation to the award of scholarships and how visa arrangements for awardees are to be managed. In particular they should address the situation of potential awardees who have a disability or HIV.

Recommendation 16

That PhD students entering under the subclass 576 visa have access to the same extension provisions recommended for Higher Degree by Research students in Recommendation 9, provided AusAID is prepared to fund their extended period.

Recommendation 17

That DIAC and DEEWR meet with State education authorities to work out what can be done to avoid the situation where a visa for a child dependent cannot be granted until proof of enrolment is present and state education authorities will not grant such proof until proof of visa grant is made. Any agreed remedy should apply across all student visa subclasses.

Recommendation 18

That students coming for semester or year¬long non‐award courses at an Australian university as part of their home universities degree and/or as part of an agreed student exchange between universities be given access to streamlined processing as outlined in Recommendation 3.

Recommendation 19

That DIAC undertake specific research targeted at integrity and compliance issues into student visa outcomes, including both primary and secondary applicants, to inform policy development.

Recommendation 20

That DIAC be appropriately funded to further develop research capability across the program.

Recommendation 21

That DIAC, to the extent permitted by legislation, co‐operate with its counterparts across all levels of government to facilitate information sharing, to inform evidence based decision making.

Recommendation 22

In the event that the research over the next 12 months reveals systemic abuse of dependant (secondary applicant) visas, that the government seriously consider mirroring the recent UK policy and restrict dependant visas to Masters and above courses unless the primary applicant is sponsored by a government.

Recommendation 23

Current arrangements whereby SCVs automatically become NCNs should cease. SCV information should continue to be conveyed to DIAC who should use it as an input into a more targeted and strategic analysis of non‐compliance.

Recommendation 24

Automatic cancellation of student visas should be abolished and replaced by a system in which information conveyed by SCVs is used as an input into a more targeted and strategic analysis of non‐compliance.

Recommendation 25

The mandatory cancellation requirement for unsatisfactory attendance, unsatisfactory progress and working in excess of the hours allowed should be removed, giving DIAC officers the discretion to determine cancellation in particular cases on their merits.

 

Recommendation 26

DIAC should concentrate its compliance and integrity resources in relation to student visas on the highest risk areas.

Recommendation 27

DIAC should not only respond to information generated by PRISMS but also be proactive in detecting the sorts of breaches (for example sham marriages and exceeding permissible work hours) which are not reported in PRISMS.

Recommendation 28

That student work entitlements be measured as 40 hours per fortnight instead of 20 hours per week

Recommendation 29

That the necessary legislative changes be made to require the name of any agent involved to be entered into the student’s data into PRISMS.

Recommendation 30

That DEEWR take steps to encourage providers to voluntarily enter agent data into PRISMS in the interim before the ESOS Act is changed to make this mandatory.

Recommendation 31

That DEEWR and DIAC establish a single student identifier to track international students through their studies in Australia.

Recommendation 32

That DIAC undertake a review of the AL framework, with a mind to either abolishing the system entirely or modifying the framework to make it relevant to current and future challenges facing the student visa program. This review should be managed by DIAC but should include reference to an external panel or reference group.

Recommendation 33

That DIAC upgrade its liaison at overseas posts with migration and education agents in relation to the student visa program, including regular meetings to keep agents abreast of any changes in rules and procedures.

Recommendation 34

That Austrade be asked to prepare a more detailed outlook document that provides effective business planning intelligence demonstrating the opportunities, for offshore provision of vo
cational education.

Recommendation 35

That the highest quality Australian VET providers including TAFEs, be encouraged to explore offshore market opportunities.

Recommendation 36

That the Australian Government, through programs such as the Export Market Development Grants Scheme and other forms of assistance, support high quality Australian vocational education providers in expanding their offshore training services.

Recommendation 37

That DIAC constitute an Education Visa Advisory Group as a primary means of regular two way communication between stakeholders in the international education sector and DIAC.

Recommendation 38

That the policy regarding Pre‐Visa Assessment (PVA) be discontinued.

Recommendation 39

That student visas be allowed to be granted in advance of four months before the commencement of the relevant course. Where necessary visas should specify a date before which the holder cannot enter Australia.

Recommendation 40

That DIAC regularly reviews the current living cost amount, and based on the CPI or other measure amend the amount, as required.

Recommendation 41

That DIAC review the exclusion criteria and policy which relate to student visa non‐compliance.

 

September 28, 2011

 

 

OVERSEAS AID: Visa rules and red tape is being eased to help more foreign students come to Australian universities.

AUSTRALIAN universities will be more attractive to overseas students under new visa rules to be adopted in time for the second semester of 2012, the government says.

The federal government announced on Thursday it will streamline visa processing for students enrolling in Australian universities.

Financial requirements for student visas will be eased, so applicants will need about $36,000 less in their bank account than they do now.

And new post-study work visas will allow students to remain in Australia for two to four years after their course ends, depending on their level of qualification.

But the student visa criteria will be tightened slightly so applicants will have to prove they are genuine students and genuine about returning home.

The changes follow a review of the student visa program led by former NSW government minister Michael Knight and the government has accepted all 41 of his recommendations.

“It’s not enough to be genuine about your studies and have no intention of going home, nor is it enough to be genuine about going home but not serious about your studies,” Mr Knight said.

Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans said the changes would help Australian universities be more competitive in the international market.

“They have articulated for a long time that the visa processes are a barrier to attracting students in an increasingly competitive environment,” he told reporters.

Contrary to perceptions, international student numbers across the education sector had continued to grow in the past year, though providers expected 2012 to be tough.

That was partly because of the old visa system and factors such as the high Australian dollar.

But Senator Evans said the sector’s previous growth rate was unsustainable and could not continue.

“I think we had some of those problems with student welfare because the system had just grown too quickly,” he said.

“This will help put this sector on a very good footing to continue to grow.”

Australian institutions could now compete on the basis of their education offerings and not be hindered by any visa requirements.

Mr Knight said it was important to strike a balance between the economic benefits brought by international students and protecting the integrity of migration controls.

From: AAP September 23, 2011 12:00AM

September 28, 2011
September 28, 2011

 

UNIVERSITIES will be allowed to entice foreign students with quick visa approvals and the right to two years of work after graduation as part of a reform package to stem further losses of overseas student income.

 

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans said yesterday they would act on a remarkably frank report on Australia’s education export industry by former NSW politician Michael Knight.

 

By mid next year, foreign students keen on an Australian university degree will have access to a new, fast-track visa system.

 

Students from supposedly high-risk countries, such as China, no longer will have to show $75,000-plus in a bank account to prove they can cover fees and living costs.

 

Regardless of where they are from, would-be students will simply have to make a declaration they can support themselves.

 

Onerous financial requirements have been bitterly criticised as an over-reaction to past failings when migration was the motor of education, especially in private colleges.

 

Under yesterday’s Knight reforms, which single out universities for special treatment, foreign graduates emerging with a bachelor’s degree will be entitled to two years of work with no restriction on the type of job.

 

But if they want to stay for good they still have to satisfy stricter rules for skilled migration, which are much less generous to on-shore foreign students with low value skills.

 

University leaders yesterday welcomed the liferaft thrown them by the government.

 

“The reforms announced are more positive than anyone we spoke to expected [and] they come when competitors are kicking own goals _ riots in the UK and US funding cuts,” said University of NSW vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer.

 

“We expect a moderate lift in 2012 and a significant lift in 2013.”

 

In New Delhi yesterday, Professor Hilmer said education agents had told him that a streamlined student visa system was “the key to restoring our competitive position”.

 

Violence against students and tighter rules for skilled migration drove Indian students away while the US and Canada were making inroads on the China market.

 

In 2010-11, Australia’s education export earnings fell by almost 10 per cent from their $18 billion peak. Sharp declines in numbers at English language colleges and tertiary preparation courses suggest that universities are heading into tough trading conditions next year.

 

The education export industry complains of “a perfect storm” _ meaning rapid and unsettling changes in visa rules and skilled migration policy, the strong dollar and more competition for students overseas, and lingering reputational damage done by attacks on Indian students.

 

Under the Knight reforms, broadly adopted by the government, students wanting to study for a bachelor’s or higher qualification at university will find it easier and quicker to get a visa, regardless what country they are from.

 

“Unfortunately the worst perceptions about visa processing times are in Australia’s biggest market, China,” Mr Knight said.

 

From next autumn, would-be university students would benefit from an end to the requirement that they show large amounts of money upfront as evidence of capacity to pay.

 

Also promised next year is a comprehensive review of the so-called risk assessment levels that immigration officials use to vet would-be students. This system makes it harder for students from China and India, for example, to get visas.

 

Mr Knight recommended a new work rights regime for foreign students who graduate from an Australian university.

 

He said this had to be “administratively very simple”.

 

“The scheme must be one which can be marketed by the universities to prospective students as almost guaranteeing post-study work rights,” he said.

 

Glenn Withers, chief executive of Universities Australia, said the work entitlement was “one of the biggest breakthroughs”.

 

“This [work right] is as good or better than the Canadian or the US provisions,” he said.

 

But Monash University researcher Bob Birrell said the labour market implications had not been thought through.

 

Locals already were competing with thousands of former overseas students who were on bridging visas following a reform of the skilled migration rules, he said.

 

Stephen Connelly, from the International Education Association Australia, welcomed the Knight reforms.

 

He praised the extension of the new streamlined visa rules to packages including university study with foundation programs or English language courses.

 

“Australia has world’s best practice in pathways and preparatory programs for university studies, and this aspect of the recommendations will help cement our competitive advantage in this area,” Mr Connelly said.

 

He urged rapid implementation of the reform package to try to reverse the downward trend in on-shore student numbers.

 

Mr Knight justified special measures to boost overseas student recruitment by universities, rather than by TAFEs or private colleges, on the basis that universities were of “universally high” quality.

 

He also cited the “huge financial stake” of taxpayers in a university sector that had become heavily dependent on fees paid by foreign students.

 

He expressed surprise at the degree of dependence, pointing out that in 2009, about 25 per cent of students at the elite group of eight universities were internationals.

 

Andrew Norton, higher education expert at the Grattan Institute, was troubled by the favouritism shown to universities.

 

“My concern is that this is a big blow to the private higher education sector and the TAFES … and that this will distort the market further,” he said.

 

He said public universities already enjoyed a privileged position in the demand-driven system starting next year.

 

Adrian McComb, from the Council of Private Higher Education, said the “university centric nature” of the Knight report was disappointing.

 

He said this ran counter to the unified system of regulation for higher education, public and private, under the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency.

 

Mr Knight said universities were “not perfect”.

 

He put universities on notice that they would be held accountable for systematic migration abuses by their students or for lower standards.

 

“The financial dependence which universities now have on the fees from international students could create pressure to soften entry standards and assessment standards,” he said.

 

He said his freeing up of student visas would be “quite dangerous” unless immigration officers put new effort into checking that applicants were genuine temporary visitors as well as genuine students.

 

However, Dr Birrell said the guidelines for this new student visa test were “so opaque that it’s almost impossible to apply. I cannot see how [an immigration] officer could possibly implement them.”

 

BY: BERNARD LANE From: The Australian September 23, 2011 12:00AM

August 19, 2011
August 19, 2011

 

Many international students rely on part-time work while they study. It might pay for your cost of living abroad and all those travel adventures, or you may want to send some money home to your family.

But how do you find the right part-time job as an international student? Read our guide to part-time work abroad, and find out!

Jobs for students

What kind of job can I do?

 

This will come down to your student visa and your language ability, rather than your course and skills. So check your visa restrictions first. If you are on a standard student visa to Australia or New Zealand, you can usually work up to 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during the holidays. If you are studying an postgraduate course and married or have a partner, you partner can work full time otherwise similar to you.

 

In the USA you are restricted to on-campus work for up to 20 hours per week. This could mean working in the college administration office, cafeteria, shops, or within a faculty.

 

You may be studying a PhD, but you most probably won’t be able to get part-time work in your chosen field. That’s fine – no matter what you end up doing, it will add to your CV experience and understanding of the workplace culture abroad.

 

International students are often found working as…

 

  • Waiters and bar staff
  • Retail staff
  • Warehouse staff
  • Call centre phone operators
  • Data entry staff
  • Security Officer
  • Car Park staff
  • Language teachers

 

These are all jobs that offer flexible part-time shifts, so you can take on more work as time and coursework allows. Make sure you feel confident in your local language ability before applying for a job that requires you to talk a lot on the phone or face to face – such as a market researcher!

 

How do I find a job?

 

You won’t be able to start looking until you’ve arrived and settled in – most employers will want to meet you in person.

 

Start with your university’s job centre or employment office. As well as current listings of local jobs, they can help you write your CV and job application,  prepare for an interview, and be ready for differences in work practices.

 

You can also look online at career websites, such as www.seek.com.au , www.careerone.com.au in Australia.

 

Some countries have government-run job centres as well. Local newspapers are also a great source of convenient part-time work.

 

How much will I be paid?

 

Make sure you understand exactly what your terms of work are before you start. Most countries have a minimum wage that all employers must stick to, even if you’re a casual part-time shift worker. In the Australia this is currently  A$14.31 per hour and in the US it’s US$7.25.

 

You may be paid weekly, fortnightly or monthly, and usually as a direct deposit into your bank account. You will pay tax out of your salary, and you should register for a local tax number (called a a Tax File Number in Australia) as soon as you are offered a job. You may be eligible for a tax return when you leave after your studies.

 

What about voluntary work?

 

Even though you might not be paid, it’s still worth taking on voluntary work for a non-profit organisation, or a short-term work experience placement. You will learn valuable work skills. Just check that it’s not a job that a local citizen would be paid to do – don’t take the risk of being exploited.

 

But how will I fit it all in?

 

It’s important to think about your course workload before you take on part-time work. If you have a lot of contact hours and a heavy commitment to group work, you may not want to take on work that will cause you extra stress.

 

But some jobs can add an entirely new dimension to your student life. You’ll meet new friends, learn new skills and discover your own hidden talents. It could be the highlight of your study abroad experience.

August 5, 2010

 

 

These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are designed for clients who have already lodged an application for General Skilled Migration (GSM). These FAQs should be read with the information about the priority processing arrangements.

Please note: These FAQs will continue to be updated in response to common questions received from clients about the changes.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, set new priority processing arrangements for certain skilled migration visas on 14 July 2010. These priority processing arrangements apply to all applications already lodged with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, as well as all future applications.

QI What is priority processing?

Priority processing refers to the order in which the department considers skilled migration applications. Section 51 of the Migration Act 1958 gives the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship powers to consider and finalise visa applications in an order of priority that the Minister considers appropriate. Departmental officers must follow this ministerial direction, which applies to both new applications and those applications awaiting a decision.

Q2 What are the changes to the skilled migration visa processing priorities?

The Minister has set new priority processing arrangements which apply to the following visas:

 

  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS)
  • Certain General Skilled Migration (GSM) visas.

 

Under the arrangements, processing priorities (with the highest priority listed first) are:

 

  1. Applications from people who are employer sponsored under the ENS and the RSMS.
  2. Applications from people who are nominated by a state or territory government agency with a nominated occupation that is specified on that state or territory’s state migration plan.
  3. Applications from people who have nominated an occupation on the new Skilled Occupation List (SOL) – Schedule 3 in effect from 1 July 2010.
  4. All other applications are to be processed in the order in which they are received.

 

Q3 Which GSM visas are affected by priority processing?

The following GSM visas are affected by priority processing:

 

  • Skilled — Independent subclass 175
  • Skilled — Independent subclass 176
  • Skilled — Regional Sponsored subclass 475
  • Skilled — Regional Sponsored subclass 487
  • Skilled — Independent Regional subclass 495
  • Skilled — Designated Area-sponsored (Provisional) subclass 496
  • Graduate — Skilled subclass 497
  • Skilled — Onshore Independent New Zealand Citizen subclass 861
  • Skilled — Onshore Australian-sponsored New Zealand Citizen subclass 862
  • Skilled — Onshore Designated Area-sponsored New Zealand Citizen subclass 863
  • Skilled — Independent Overseas Student subclass 880
  • Skilled — Australian-sponsored subclass 881
  • Skilled — Designated Area-sponsored Overseas Student subclass 882
  • Skilled — Independent subclass 885
  • Skilled — Sponsored subclass 886.

 

Q4 Which GSM visa subclasses are exempt from priority processing?

The following visa subclasses are exempt from priority processing:

 

  • Skilled — Recognised Graduate subclass 476
  • Skilled — Graduate subclass 485
  • Skilled — Designated Area — Sponsored (Residence) subclass 883
  • Skilled — Regional subclass 887.

 

Applications for these visa subclasses will be processed in the order in which they are received by the department.

Q5 What applications are not affected by the Direction or priority processing?

The following applications are not affected:

 

  • Applications that have been remitted by the Migration Review Tribunal for reconsideration.
  • Applications where it is readily apparent that the criteria for grant of the visa would not be satisfied.
  • Applications by visa applicants claiming to be a member of the family unit of a person who holds a visa granted on the basis of satisfying the primary criteria in Schedule 2 to the Regulations and who did not make a combined application with that person.
  • Visa applications for a Skilled – Regional Sponsored Subclass 487 visa where the applicant holds a Skilled – Independent Regional (Provisional) Subclass 495 visa, Skilled – Designated Area-sponsored
  • (Provisional) Subclass 496 visa, Skilled – Regional Sponsored Subclass 487 visa or Skilled – Regional
  • Sponsored Subclass 475 visa at the time they apply.

 

Q6 The new direction refers to Schedule 3 of the Skilled Occupation list (SOL) what do these schedules refer to?

The Skilled Occupation List (SOL) is a list of occupations that are accepted for general skilled migration. Applicants must have a nominated occupation which is on the SOL that applies to them at the time they apply. The recent changes to skilled migration have included generous transitional arrangements for some people. These arrangements require that the previous version of the SOL be kept available for those people so they can access their transitional arrangements. The changes also included a change in the way occupations are classified, from ASCO to ANZSCO. This change required that the previous version of the SOL be provided in both the ASCO and ANZSCO coding.

The different SOLs are distinguished by different schedules, as follows:

• the SOL in existence prior to 1 July 2010 in ASCO code (schedule 1) — applies only to GSM applicants who lodged their application prior to 1 July 2010.

• the SOL in existence prior to 1 July 2010 in ANZSCO code (schedule 2) — applies to GSM applicants who are eligible for transitional arrangements and who lodge their application before 1 January 2013.

• the current SOL (schedule 3) in effect from 1 July 2010 — applies to all new GSM applications, including applicants eligible for transitional arrangements if they prefer to use it.

• the State and Territory SOL (schedule 4 ) — applies only to GSM applicants nominated by a State or Territory government under a State Migration Plan.

More information about change to the SOL are available from the departmental website. See: www.immi.gov.au/skilled/sol/

Information about the transitional arrangements is available from the departmental website. See: http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/pdf/faq-sol.pdf

Information about the department’s introduction of ANZSCO, which replaces ASCO in relation to skilled occupations, is available from the departmental website. See: www.immi.gov.au/employers/anzsco/

Q7 What is a State Migration Plan?

State Migration plans are developed by state or territory governments and include occupations that are in demand in an individual state or territory. Each state migration plan is approved by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. State migration plans are currently being developed and are expected to come into effect during the second half of 2010. A notice will be put on the department’s website when plans come into effect.

Q8 Why have the processing priorities changed?

The priority processing arrangements take account of the changes to the SOL that came into effect on 1 July 2010, as well as the revocation of the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) and the Critical Skills List (CSL). These changes to priority processing simplify previous arrangements. Many applicants will find that they are in a higher priority group. Some will have to wait longer for their visas to be processed.

Q9 When did the changes to priority processing come into effect?

The changes took effect from 14 July 2010 and apply to applications lodged with the department on or after this date. The changes also apply to applications lodged before 14 July 2010 that have not been finalised.

Q10 Is there any difference in the processing priorities that apply to onshore and offshore visa subclasses?

No, the processing priorities apply to both onshore and offshore applications. Processing times, however may vary for onshore and offshore applications

Q11 What will happen to applications in the final stages of processing where the department has requested applicants to provide health and character clearances?

The new arrangements apply to all visa applications, including those in the final stages of processing. Applications in lower priority groups cannot be processed further until those in higher priority groups are finalised in accordance with the priority processing direction.

Q12 Can I request that my application be given higher priority outside of the Minister’s Direction?

No, please do not contact the department to request your application be exempt from the priority processing direction. Case officers must adhere to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship’s priority processing direction.

Q13 My nominated occupation is Accountant but I was not eligible for the CSL. What level of priority processing will I receive?

The occupation of Accountant is included on Schedule 3 of the current Skilled Occupation List (SOL) and therefore your application will be in priority group 3, except those already included in priority groups 1 or 2.

Q14 My application is in priority category 4. When can I expect to have my application finalised?

Applicants with nominated occupations in priority group 4 will have a long wait for visa processing. The department’s Client Service Charter will be updated shortly with information about current estimated processing times. See: Visas for Migrating to Australia as a Skilled Person (http://www.immi.gov.au/about/charters/clientservices-charter/visas/8.0.htm)

Q15 I have been nominated by a state or territory government but my occupation is not listed on a State Migration Plan. What level of priority processing will my application receive?

If your nominated occupation is not on your state or territory’s State Migration Plan, your application will be processed on the basis of your nominated occupation. Applicants who have nominated an occupation that is included in Schedule 3 of the current SOL are in priority processing group 3. An applicant with a nominated occupation that is included only in Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 of the current SOL is in priority processing group 4.

Q16 If my nominated occupation is not in Schedule 3 of the SOL in effect at 1 July 2010 what level of priority processing will I receive?

Applicants with a nominated occupation that is included only in Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 of the current SOL are in priority processing group 4, unless they have applied for ENS or RSMS or have a state or territory nomination in an occupation on a state migration plan.

Q17 I applied for GSM. If my nominated occupation is not in Schedule 3 of the SOL in effect at 1 July 2010 can my application receive higher priority processing?

Yes if you are nominated by a state or territory government under a state migration plan. Applicants who lodged before 1 July 2010 that have been nominated by a state or territory government agency in an occupation that is subsequently specified in their nominating state or territory’s state migration plan will receive processing under priority group 2.

Q18 What are my options if my application is in priority group 4 and I have applied for an onshore GSM visa?

The options available are:

 

  • continue to live and work in Australia (if your visa permits) while you await a decision on your visa application
  • assess your eligibility for an employer sponsored visa or a nomination by a state or territory government under a state migration plan agreed to by the minister
  • apply for another substantive visa
  • withdraw your application and depart Australia.

 

Please note: Some of these options would require the lodgement of a new application and the payment of a new Visa Application Charge (VAC). If you choose to withdraw your application you will not be entitled to a refund of your VAC.

For applications lodged after 1 July 2010, a new application may be required if you have obtained a state or territory nomination after lodgement. Please contact the skilled processing centre. See: http://www.immi.gov.au/contacts/australia/processing-centres/adelaide-skilled.htm

You may also seek an employer sponsorship under the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS).

More information about ENS and RSMS is available from the departmental website. See: www.immi.gov.au/skilled/skilled-workers/visa-permanent.htm

More information about estimated processing times are available from the departmental website. See: http://www.immi.gov.au/about/charters/client-services-charter/visas/8.0.htm

Q19 What are my options if my application is in priority group 4 and I applied for an offshore GSM visa?

The options available are:

 

  • continue to await a decision on your visa application
  • assess your eligibility for an employer sponsored visa, or nomination by a state or territory government under a state migration plan agreed to by the minister
  • withdraw your application.

 

Please note: Some of these options would require the lodgement of a new application and the payment of a new VAC. If you choose to withdraw your application you will not be entitled to a refund of your VAC.

For applications lodged after 1 July 2010, a new application may be required if you have obtained a state or territory nomination after lodgement. Please contact the skilled processing centre. See: http://www.immi.gov.au/contacts/australia/processing-centres/adelaide-skilled.htm

More information about estimated processing times is available from the departmental website. See: http://www.immi.gov.au/about/charters/client-services-charter/visas/8.0.htm

Q20 I am currently in Australia but my visa will expire before my application for an offshore GSM visa is finalised can I remain in Australia while my visa is processed?

Applicants for an offshore GSM visa are not eligible for an associated bridging visa to remain in Australia while their GSM application is being processed. You must apply for another visa to remain in Australia lawfully; otherwise you will need to depart Australia.

Q21 I am an onshore GSM applicant on a Bridging C visa which does not allow me to work. What can I do?

It is possible to be granted a Bridging C visa that will allow you to work. Please complete a Form 1005 Application for a bridging visa and submit this and supporting documentation evidencing financial hardship to the skilled processing centre processing your visa application.

Examples of the types of supporting documents required include a statement outlining income against outgoing expenses. Other examples may include living expenses such as accommodation costs and other bills.

Q22 I want to travel overseas but my onshore visa application has not been finalised. What should I do?

If you were granted a Bridging A visa when you applied for your GSM visa you may be able to lodge an application for a Bridging B visa to allow you to travel and return to Australia (within a specified period). A Bridging B visa is
generally not issued for longer than three months.

You must apply for a Bridging B visa at one of the department’s state or territory offices, not the skilled processing centre which is processing your GSM application. See: http://www.immi.gov.au/contacts/australia/

If you travel on a Bridging B visa, you do not need to contact the department on your return to Australia to apply for another bridging visa unless you have further need to travel outside Australia.

Note: If you travel out of Australia on another type of visa, your bridging visa will cease and you will need to apply for another bridging visa if you return to Australia.

Q23 I have a provisional or temporary GSM visa and my spouse/child now want to join me will they be able to do so?

Yes, applications for subsequent entrants for provisional GSM visas are exempt from priority processing arrangements.

These arrangements apply to the following GSM visas:

 

  • Skilled — Regional Sponsored subclass 475
  • Skilled — Recognised Graduate subclass 476
  • Skilled — Graduate subclass 485
  • Skilled — Regional Sponsored subclass 487
  • Skilled — Independent Regional subclass 495
  • Skilled — Designated Area-sponsored subclass 496.

 

Q24 Am I entitled to compensation if my visa application is taking longer to process than expected due to the new priority processing direction?

Compensation is not available for delays in processing.

Q25 Why do the rules keep changing?

The skilled migration program is designed to be responsive to the current economic climate and the needs of the Australian economy. The new priority processing arrangements complement other recent changes to skilled migration to ensure that the economy gets the skills it needs in a timely manner. Priority processing arrangements are always subject to further change in response to the economic climate and the demand for particular skills in the Australian economy.

Priority in the skilled migration program goes to those who can provide the skills Australia most needs, rather than those visa applicants who applied first. The Australian Government is aware that the priority processing arrangements impact on many applicants. These changes to priority processing simplify previous arrangements. Many applicants will find that they are in a higher priority group. Some will have to wait longer for their visas to be processed.

Q26 Isn’t priority processing retrospective legislation?

Priority processing is an administrative arrangement, and impacts on the order in which applications are considered. It is not retrospective legislation as it does not change the criteria for the grant of a GSM visa.

Useful documents

More information about the changes to the GSM program is available from the department’s website including the following information sheets.

See:

http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/pdf/new-list-of-occupations.pdf (101KB PDF file)

http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/pdf/faq-new-sol.pdf (87KB PDF file)

http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/pdf/options-not-eligible.pdf (71KB PDF file)

 

August 5, 2010

 

The Minister for Immigration has announced new processing priorities which apply from 14 July 2010 for General Skilled Migration and permanent employer sponsored visas.

These arrangements take account of the changes to the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) that came into effect on 1 July 2010, as well as the revocation of the Migration Occupation in Demand List (MODL) and the Critical Skills List (CSL).

Processing Priorities

There are 4 priority groups – from highest to lowest priority these are:

  • Employer Sponsored: RSMS and ENS are the highest priority
  • General Skilled applicants sponsored under a State Migration Plan
  • General Skilled applicants with an occupation on the new SOL
  • All other applicants

Processing Times

In addition, we also have indicative processing times:

ENS/RSMS:

  • ETA countries (Low Risk): 5 months
  • Non-ETA countries (High Risk): 7 months

State Migration Plan

  • Onshore: 6 months
  • Offshore: 12 months

New SOL:

Lodged prior to 1 July 2010:

  • Onshore: to be processed prior to 1 July 2011
  • Offshore: to be processed prior to 31 December 2011

Lodged after 1 July 2010:

  • Onshore: 18 months
  • Offshore: 18-24 months

Otherwise: to be processed after groups 1-3 are finalized

Exempt Visa Types

Not all skilled visas are subject to the new priorities. For instance, the following continue to be processed in the order received:

  • Skilled Graduate Subclass 4 js” type=”text/javascript”> 85 – 12 months
  • Skilled Recognised Graduate Subclass 476 – 7 months
  • Skilled Regional Subclass 887 – 5 months
  • Cases which have been refused and appealed successfully to the MRT (Migration Review Tribunal)
  • Subsequent entrants for Skilled Regional Sponsored and Skilled Graduate visas
  • Applications which clearly do not meet essential criteria and which are for refusal

Summary of Previous Changes

  • The Critical Skills List – introduced in January 2009 – has now been abolished and effectively replaced by a much shorter Skilled Occupations List which is now being used both to limit numbers of new applications and to prioritise applications already in the system.
  • Note that no State Migration Plans have yet been finalised. We understand that a number of states have completed their plans and are awaiting signature from the Minister of Immigration. As the government is currently in caretaker mode, ahead of the Federal Election on August 21, these may be a few months off coming into effect.
  • People who were sponsored by state or territory governments receive no priority due to this unless they are sponsored under a State Migration Plan. If the nominated occupation is not on the new SOL, the application would be at the lowest priority level – despite the fact that such applicants were previously at the highest priority level.
  • The changes are still positive for accountants – previously a minimum score of 7 in the IELTS test was required for priority to be given. Now, any applicant with a skills assessment as an accountant will be at least in priority group 3.
  • The indicative processing time for a Skilled Graduate subclass 485 visa is far longer than is reasonable. This type of visa is only valid for 18 months from the date of grant. On the positive side, the longer DIAC takes to process a 485 visa, the longer a student has to stay in Australia with full work rights.
  • People in the lowest priority group have reason to be concerned because the Minister has introduced a visa capping bill which would give him the ability to cancel visa applications from people meeting certain criteria (eg occupation). Given the number of people waiting for decisions on skilled visas, the Minister would be highly likely to exercise this power if the Visa Capping Bill is passed through Parliament.

 

 

 

 

July 20, 2010
July 20, 2010

LIVE, WORK and STUDY in AUSTRALIA

MIGRATION TO AUSTRALIA
International Education Agency – Australia and Migration Professionals are working together to help you (and your family) live, work and study in Australia.

Contact us now at migration@inteducation.com for our personal visa eligibility assessment service which includes advice on all your options to live, work and study in Australia. Read More

July 8, 2010

 

 

From 1 July 2010 DIAC require overseas students to obtain OSHC for the proposed duration of their Student visa.

Where a student will be studying at more than one education provider, the requirement remains that the student must maintain health insurance for the duration of their visa. There cannot be a gap in the OSHC coverage.

If a student has already obtained OSHC for a 12 month period before 1 July they will not be asked to obtain further insurance. They will be expected to renew their policy when it expires.

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is intended to assist international students to meet the costs of medical and hospital care that they may need while in Australia.

A student visa can be granted up to the maximum duration outlined below:

Visa duration is 10 months or less – The visa will usually be granted up to one month longer than the duration of the course.

Visa duration is longer than 10 Months – The visa will usually be granted up to two months longer that the duration of the course.

Visa duration is longer than 10 Months and finishing at the end of the Australian academic year (October – December) – The visa will usually be granted up to March 15 of the following year.

For all students submitting applications from July onwards, we will calculate the visa length and issue a statement of fees which reflects an OSHC amount as per the information above.

The start date for the OSHC will be from the course commencement date

To assist students who are now preparing to make fees payment and request their CoE’s it is advised that you contact the relevant Education Counsellor to obtain a revised statement showing the correct OSHC fees. Please ensure that this is requested prior to the student preparing their fees payment through TT or Bank Draft.

In the case where payment is received without the additional OSHC amount, the outstanding fees will be required prior to the CoE being issued

IEAA help students to get their OSHC free of any additional service charge . Should you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Additional information can be found attached or at http://www.immi.gov.au/students/_pdf/oshc-faq.pdf

 

February 7, 2010

On 8 February 2010, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, announced the following changes to the General Skilled Migration program:

  • the outcomes of a review of the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL)
  • the replacement of the current Skilled Occupation List (SOL) in the second half of 2010
  • offshore GSM visas made before 1 September 2007 would be capped and ceased
  • priority processing arrangements
  • skills assessment requirements for GSM applicants nominating a trade occupation.

 

Australian government will tighten the list of target occupations and focus instead on healthcare, engineering and mining. The changes aimed at making skilled migration to be more effective to Australia’s needs.

 

The government will also abolish the current Migration on demand list (MODL) and publish a new Skill Occupation List (SOL).

 

The Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, said Australia needed a program that ”delivers the skills that are actually in demand in the economy, not just the skills that applicants present with”. ”If hospitals are crying out for and willing to sponsor nurses then of course they should have priority over the 12,000 unsponsored cooks who have applied and who, if all were granted visas, would flood the domestic market,” Senator Evans said.

 

”In recent years, the skilled migration program has been skewed as the pool of applicants has become dominated by a handful of occupations.” The current points system puts an overseas student with a short-term vocational qualification gained in Australia ahead of a Harvard-educated environmental scientist.

 

The bar was being raised for applicants without an Australian employer prepared to sponsor them. There were many occupations where the supply of qualified young Australians was adequate. But there were some jobs where there was a high demand for skills such as for hospital nurses, country doctors and resource sector employees.

 

Yesterday the Finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner, warned against a dramatic migration drop. The need for doctors, nurses, mining engineers, and IT specialists from overseas was ”crucial to our economy”, he told Channel Ten’s Meet the Press.

 

More information is available on the department’s website.

See:
Changes to the General Skilled Migration Program (362KB PDF file)
Outcomes of the Migration Occupation in Demand List Review – Frequently Asked Questions (373KB PDF file)
Onshore International Students (435KB PDF file)
Changes to Offshore General Skilled Migration Visa Applications Received Before 1 September 2007 (409KB PDF file)
Changes to the Current Skilled Occupation List (368KB PDF file)
Revoking the Critical Skills List (337KB PDF file)
Changes to Priority Processing Arrangements – Frequently Asked Questions (406KB PDF file)
General Skilled Migration (GSM) Points Test Review (377KB PDF file)
Changes to the Skills Assessment Requirements for GSM Applicants Nominating a Trade Occupation (417KB PDF file)

 

1 January 2010 legislative change – suitable skills assessment as a validity requirement for onshore GSM visas

Pre 1 January 2010, applicants applying for permanent migration based on one of the onshore General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa subclasses were required, at time of application, to provide evidence that they had applied for a skills assessment by the relevant assessing authority. At time of decision, a suitable skills assessment was required.

From 1 January 2010, applicants applying for one of the following onshore GSM visa subclasses will be required to have obtained a suitable skills assessment prior to applying for migration in order for the application to be valid and assessed by the department for a decision:

More information is available online. 
See: Skills Assessment Criterion as a Validity Requirement from 1 January 2010 for Onshore GSM Visas( 49KB PDF file)