Simpler and faster visa processing, known as Streamlined Visa Processing (SVP), will now be extended to students enrolled in advanced diploma level courses, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, and Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, announced earlier this week.
The announcement comes after streamlined visa processing arrangements have been put in place for prospective students of selected low immigration risk education providers who offer bachelor, masters or doctoral degree level courses.
The government will now provide direct access to SVP for the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector providers by extending it to low immigration risk providers that offer advanced diploma level courses, a spokesman for the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator Michaelia Cash, told Neos Kosmos.
“Eligibility to participate in the extended arrangements will be based on education providers meeting statistical thresholds of low immigration risk. Visa applicants without access to SVP will continue to have their visas processed under the recently simplified Assessment Level Framework,” Ms Cash said.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne said that changes will benefit Australia’s VET and higher education sectors, supporting the sustainable growth of Australia’s international education industry while providing a vital boost to the economy.
“The number of international students seeking to study in Australia continues to rebound positively, with an increase of over 27 per cent in the number of visas granted to offshore applicants in the 2013-14 program year,” Minister Pyne said.
It is believed the arrangements will help attract more students from overseas, once the extension is implemented in early 2015.
With students visas often being the easy pathway to migrate to Australia, the government ensured that immigration risk will be appropriately managed and consistent with the approach used for the existing SVP arrangements.
“An education provider’s immigration risk level is calculated by assessing data about the prospective and actual international students associated with that provider. This includes data about visa refusals, including refusals due to fraud, and compliance with visa conditions,” a spokesperson for Assistant Minister Michaelia Cash told Neos Kosmos.
“Education providers that do not maintain a low immigration risk rating once given access to SVP may be removed from the arrangements. The genuine temporary entrant (GTE) requirement also provides a safeguard to ensure that only genuine applicants are granted a visa.”
Vasilis Mitroulas, director of the consulting company Let’s Go Study Australia, set up in 2012 in Melbourne to meet the increased demands of Greeks wanting to study abroad, told Neos Kosmos the changes in student visas arrangements will not affect them, with most of their clients already being Assessment Level 1.
With new arrangements, student visa applications are assessed as though they are a lower immigration risk, similar to the current Assessment Level 1, regardless of the applicant’s country of origin. The changes will be more advantageous for higher assessment level nationals, director Vasilis Mitroulas told Neos Kosmos.
“In essence, most of our clients are classified Assessment Level 1, which means that these students are classified low migration risk and as such are afforded less scrutiny and red tape when applying for a student visa.”
If it is implemented properly, the streamlining of the visa application process is necessary, Mr Mitroulas said, as more genuine students are allowed to come to Australia for the purpose of study.
“Let’s not forget that international education is Australia’s second biggest export sector, so streamlining the process will naturally attract more potential international students that will benefit Australia as a whole.
“It may be true that it will attract more migrants, however we must not lose sight of the fact that a student visa is just that – a student visa. It may however provide a platform or pathway to migrating to Australia. Students with skills or studying towards skills which are in demand in Australia can increase their likeliness of a prolonged stay in Australia which could lead to permanency.”
Since its start in 2012, Let’s Go Study has assisted over 400 Greek students to gain entry into Australian education providers. Students have enrolled in English language schools, vocational colleges, TAFE and universities.
The benefit for the students is twofold, Mr Mitroulas said, as a student visa also permits the student to work part-time during college course time and full-time during semester breaks.
“Whilst the opportunities in their home country are at a minimum at the moment due to the economic crisis they can equip themselves with English language skills and other recognised qualifications which will increase their employability upon their return to Greece.
“In saying that, many of our students have also achieved work sponsorships in Australia in various fields including engineering, automotive professions, hospitality, building and construction, nursing and IT, amongst others.”
For more information about streamlined visa processing arrangements, visit www.immi.gov.au/students/student-visa-non-university.htm