08 April 2009

Australian student visa programme under close watch

The Australian student visa programme is under close scrutiny from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) as educational institutions are being investigated for beaches of Australian immigration law, reports The Age.

The Australian student visa allows international students to study in Australia, with the option of applying for a permanent Australian visa upon completion of their studies (depending on the qualifications they have attained during their course/s). 

In 2007-2008, over 21,000 Australian student visa holders were granted a permanent Australian visa under various visa class applications, including employer-sponsorship and  General Skilled MIgration (GSM) (State/Territory nomination and independent skilled migration).  As the General Skilled Migration (GSM) programme is points-tested, studying in Australia can earn Australian student visa holders valuable points towards their Australian visa application so they can secure permanent residency.

To apply for a permanent Australian visa, Australian student visa holders need to supply the DIAC with certification to prove their education and vocational experience.  Since last year, the Government has been working towards eradicating a culture of providing fraudulent certification after it came to their attention that the problem was far more deep-seated than had hoped.

Currently, DIAC are investigating 20 Melbourne colleges for possible breaches of immigration laws, although they cannot comment which colleges they are. 

"The department is assessing allegations concerning 20 education providers that are operating out of Melbourne. Some of those investigations have been ongoing since early 2008… The department is not in a position to provide further information at this time as it might jeopardise the progress of those investigations," a departmental spokesperson said.

TAFE Directors Australia chief executive Martin Riordan said over 50 per cent of the few hundred thousand Australian student visa holders in Australia study at vocational institutions, which provide courses for people wanting a skilled trade occupation.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

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