The rejection rate for student visas has doubled, as the immigration department announces the establishment of a new division to rigorously inspect Vocational Education and Training (VET) private schools. Additionally, Tom McIlroy, an Australian political journalist, analyzed the report from the Grattan Institute yesterday, focusing on reforms to the 485 graduate visa.
The Australian government has been continuously amending the immigration system since the beginning of the fiscal year. Minister for Home Affairs, Clare O'Neil, has initiated partial reforms to the immigration system, primarily aimed at relaxing immigration restrictions to retain and attract more talent to Australia. It is confirmed that in the latest immigration system reforms, two types of visas prone to loopholes will undergo stringent scrutiny. The first category is student visas, and the second is refugee visas."
"Back in March 2022, a leaked memorandum from the International Student Transfer Workgroup led by the Australian Department of Education highlighted significant loopholes in student visas. However, the Education Department did not take any measures to remedy or reduce the potential exploitation of these loopholes.
As the number of student visa holders reached a historic high by the end of June, totaling 660,765 individuals, a recent joint press release by the Australian federal government outlined the actions they are undertaking.
Key initiatives include establishing an integrity task force within the Vocational Education and Training (VET) regulatory agency, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). This task force will receive an investment of $37.8 million to enhance ASQA's capabilities for conducting compliance checks on illegal activities.
Furthermore, a confidential VET reporting hotline will be set up to enable current and former students, faculty, and staff to anonymously report suspected serious misconduct, safeguarding the integrity and reputation of the entire VET industry."
Tom McIlroy, an Australian political journalist, reported on the surge in the number of students in Australia in recent years, but the number eligible for immigration has dropped to less than one-third. Simultaneously, there's a considerable number of students enrolled in lower-level courses solely to extend their stay in Australia for work and earnings. The Grattan Institute has suggested implementing shorter-term 485 post-graduate work visas for international students and abolishing policies that extend visas based on skill shortages and regional work. Only individuals earning an annual salary exceeding $70,000 AUD would be eligible for visa extensions, with a proposed age limit of 35 for applying for post-graduate visas (currently set at under 50). The legislation for 485 visa extensions has just been introduced, and making amendments could indeed require an extended period.
The institute is also advocating for a single-point scoring system aimed at young, highly skilled workers to obtain permanent residency. More details are expected to be released later this week. Overall, major reforms are expected to revolve around the following points:
1. Tightening of student visas, with rigorous scrutiny of document authenticity and genuine study intentions.
2. Focused scrutiny on private VET institutions to ensure the integrity and reputation of Australia's VET industry.
3. Relaxation of immigration pathways for high-skilled and high-income individuals.
4. Potential tightening of age restrictions across various visa categories.