New visa measures to assist international students
Monday, 9 November 2009
The Australian Government is introducing new measures to assist overseas students affected by the closure of an international education provider.
The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said that from 1 January 2010, overseas students who require a new visa to complete their studies at another school or college will be exempt from paying the $540 student visa application charge.
Senator Evans said that although most students will be able to complete their studies on their existing student visa, some may need to enrol in a new course that finishes after their existing student visa expires and will require a new visa.
Twelve education providers have closed in 2009, affecting about 4,700 students.
'In situations where an education provider can no longer offer a course, the government’s primary concern is the welfare of the student,' Senator Evans said.
'We understand that these situations are not the fault of the student and the introduction of a fee exemption will ensure they are not shouldered with an additional financial burden.'
In the interim, students will be able to apply to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship for a refund of their visa application fee if they’ve been affected by the closure of an education provider in 2009 and have had to apply for a new student visa.
Senator Evans said the government is also increasing the minimum financial requirements for overseas students to ensure they can meet their living costs while in Australia.
From 1 January 2010, prospective overseas students will need to demonstrate that they have access to at least $18 000 a year to fund their living costs in Australia, instead of the current $12 000.
The new figure better reflects student costs in Australia and is consistent with information published for international students in Australian Education International’s (the international arm of DEEWR) 'Study in Australia' guide.
Living costs are one component of the financial requirements for a student visa. Students must also have sufficient funds for tuition fees, travel costs and costs of any dependents.
'It is important that students understand these financial requirements are only the minimum amount required for a student visa,' Senator Evans said.
'International students can supplement their income through part-time work in Australia but the primary purpose of a student visa is to study and students should not rely on part-time work to meet their expenses.
'Prospective students are encouraged to conduct their own research so they can make an informed decision about what study in Australia will cost.'
DIAC will also make an assessment of whether the funds demonstrated by students will be available to them while they are in Australia.
'The Australian Government values international students and is determined to make sure they have a rewarding and successful study experience in Australia, without financial hardship,' Senator Evans said.
The latest measures will be implemented through regulation change later this month subject to approval by Parliament and the Governor-General.
The changes will support the enhanced integrity measures for the student visa program announced in August this year. Those measures included:
- upgrading the interview program to build a strong evidence base around fraud
- removing or restricting eVisa access for some agents where there is evidence of fraud or inactivity
- restricting access to eVisa for some segments of the caseload if analysis demonstrates restricted access would allow for better control of fraud.
The measures target parts of the student visa caseload in India, Mauritius, Nepal, Brazil, Zimbabwe and Pakistan.
Since these enhanced integrity measures were introduced, there has been an increase in the number of applications being withdrawn, from five per cent in July to 17 per cent in September.
And to date, more than 150 agents have had their eVisa access suspended due to evidence of fraud or inactivity.
More information on the changes will be available on the department’s website in coming days.
See: What's New for Students and Sponsored Training?
Last update: 09 November 2009 at 15:28 AEST