04 September 2008
Foreign students "have nothing to fear" from Australian immigration law changes
In a media statement from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) yesterday, the Australian Government has told international students they should not fear the changes to the Assessment Levels (ALs) for student visa applications.
As a result of a review into the Australian student visa program, the Government has made legislative changes to the Assessment Levels (ALs), which student visa applications are assessed against.
The changes mean the ALs in 43 countries have been amended. All applications for a student visa from nationals in these countries are now subject to these amendments. All applications which were already being processed before the 01 September 2008 will not be affected by the changes.
As part of the changes, the immigration risk of more than half of the 43 countries has been lowered to Assessment Level 1, including Brazil, Botswana, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, South Africa and Thailand, meaning they now have to provide the lowest level of evidence to support their student visa application.
"While the majority of the assessment level moves are favourable, to maintain the integrity of the student visa program the department will raise the assessment levels for nine countries, in one or more education sectors," a departmental spokesperson said.
Prospective overseas students from India, Jordan, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Romania now have to give extra evidence proving their student status for an Australian visa application is legitimate and they have the capacity to support themselves financially.
"This is all part of the department’s regular analysis of the visa compliance of international students from every country studying in each education sector in Australia. This is used to determine how likely it is that prospective students will comply with their visa conditions or seek to use the student visa for purposes other than study."
Although the changes will increase security against students from higher risk countries, the DIAC has said the majority of international students "have nothing to fear" from the legislative changes. The changes mean the visa process for many international students will be streamlined by reducing their assessment level. All others who are affected by the changes will have to provide a higher level of evidence of their English language ability, academic qualifications and their ability to support themselves financially during their studies.
In the year 2007-08, the number of international students enrolled in Australia increased by 22 per cent on the previous year to 228,000 visas granted.
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.
Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.