12 Jan Simpler Student Visa Scheme
The federal government will cut the number of student visa categories and introduce a simplified single immigration risk framework for international students as part of a major reshuffle of student visas.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the new arrangement would replace the current streamlined visa processing scheme and apply to all international students. Instead of providing special SVP status to providers, students will be assessed on the immigration profile of the country of citizenship and the risk profile of the education provider.
“Australia is open for business and welcomes genuine and high quality international students who provide a much-needed boost to our economy, our local communities and jobs, and who boost our country-to-country relationships,” Mr Pyne said in a statement.
“We warmly welcome genuine international students and we are committed to improving and protecting the integrity of our immigration system.”
International students contributed a record $17.5 billion to the Australian economy for the 12 months to the end of March, the highest figure since 2009.
But the SVP system, which is widely credited with increasing international enrolments, was also targeted by some immigration agents as an easy avenue for non-genuine students. The Australian reported in January that 7061 student visas had been cancelled in the previous financial year, a threefold increase in two years.
The government is expected to begin detailed work on the implementation of the new simplified international student visa framework at the end of the month, with the new scheme to be implemented by the middle of the next year.
The current SVP process allows education providers independence in issuing visas to incoming students, while other student visa subclasses require the submission of finances and evidence of English-language competencies.
The new scheme will mean fewer students requiring to provide evidence for admission, although individual risk ratings for students and countries will be kept confidential.
The streamlined evidentiary requirements would apply to all students enrolled at education providers with the lowest immigration risk rating, all students from countries with the lowest immigration risk rating, and all students enrolled at providers with a medium immigration risk rating, provided the student’s country of citizenship has a low or medium rating.
Assistant Minister for Immigration Michaelia Cash said the overall integrity of the visa program would be maintained but unnecessary burdens would be removed from providers.
“The SSVF will support the growth of the international education sector by enhancing both competitiveness and integrity while extending streamlined processing to all education sectors and all course types,” Senator Cash said.
Source: The Australian