• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Australia new students visa policy aims to end “visa hopping”  from July 1

Australia new students visa policy aims to end visa hopping 

The Australian government has announced a significant policy change that will end the ability to convert a visitor visa to a student visa while onshore.

This new rule, set to take effect on July 1, aims to curtail “visa hopping” and close perceived loopholes in the migration system, less than three weeks after its announcement.

The move is a response to a rising trend in the migration system where individuals on visitor visas transition to student visas without leaving the country.

Read also: Australia updates student visa process, new requirements and opportunities

Over 36,000 applications were made for this pathway between July 1, 2023, and May 31, 2024. This practice, termed “visa hopping,” has been flagged as a significant issue by the government.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil highlighted the advice of Australian demographer Peter McDonald, who supports the policy change as a more effective way to manage population growth compared to reducing the permanent migration intake.

“Our Migration Strategy outlines a clear plan to close the loopholes in international education and this is the next step in delivering that plan,” said O’Neil.

“We need a migration system which delivers the skills we need but doesn’t trade in rorts, loopholes and exploitation.”

Read also: Japa: 10 tips on how to secure jobs in Australia as an international student

According to McDonald, limiting the number of visa applications from people already in Australia will better control the influx of temporary residents transitioning to longer-term stays.

Statistics show a notable increase in the number of international students remaining in Australia on subsequent student visas.

The figure has surged by over 30%, reaching more than 150,000 in the 2022/23 period. This trend underscores the prevalence of visa hopping and its impact on Australia’s population dynamics.

The decision has drawn varied reactions, particularly from education stakeholders. English Australia, a key representative body for English language colleges, has voiced concerns over the policy change. The organization argues that prospective students often travel to Australia on tourist visas to evaluate educational institutions and locations before committing.

Read also: Common 10 Reasons for Australian Student Visa Rejection in 2024

English Australia contends that this practice should be encouraged rather than restricted, as it aligns with the behaviour of genuine students who seek to ensure their chosen institution meets their needs.

This policy change comes at a time of considerable flux in Australia’s higher education sector. Over the next three months, enrolment caps on international students are expected to be calculated, potentially leading to further adjustments in the sector.

In addition, there have been recent changes to temporary graduate visas. From March 2024, new rules have been implemented that shorten post-study work rights, reduce age limits for some visas from 50 to 35 years, and increase language requirements.

“Together, these changes will continue to reduce net overseas migration, with the Government on-track to halve net overseas migration by next financial year,” the announcement said.

These changes reflect a broader tightening of visa regulations aimed at better managing the international student population and ensuring that the migration system supports Australia’s long-term economic and social goals.