Travel ban exemption for international students from July proposed

Travel ban exemption for international students from July proposed

International students bring about A$39 billion (S$36.7 billion) a year into Australia and account for about 26 per cent of total university revenue. The sudden loss of many students from abroad amid the ban on arrivals of foreign nationals due to the pandemic has already led to staff cuts at universities and could leave some facing financial collapse if it continues into next year.
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International student visa rort by studying bogus courses

Allegations previously made by the National Training Regulator, ASQA of organised crime using ghost colleges or fake vocational training programs to scam the Australia migration system have been ratified by Labor’s immigration spokesperson, Kristina Keneally in a recent speech where she criticized the governments handling of the surge in bridging visas and claims for asylum.

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Increased mental health services for international students needed in Australia

Huifeng Liu said WeChat group SOS-AUS often receive messages from concerned family about international students.
The Federal Government has announced $200,000 for a new research project to look at mental health support and services for international students, including identifying the challenges in engaging students with services following criticism by those involved in the international education sector about a lack of a systematic approach to mental health service provision for international students.

Reseach shows economy losing out due to the untapped potential of migrant workers

The study, conducted by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, found that 35 per cent of non-English-speaking migrant workers were considered over-qualified for their jobs, compared to 10 per cent of Australian-born employees.  Report author Alan Duncan of Curtin University said improved skills, coupled with better education and training, could add $6 billion to Australia’s economy.

Trashed visa system fuels human trafficking, exploitation and slavery

Department of Home Affairs officials have confirmed that around 95,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Australia by plane over the past five years, which Labor claims is fuelling “exploitation and slavery”:

The figures were disclosed in answers to Questions on Notice from Labor’s spokesperson for Home Affairs and Immigration Kristina Keneally.

“There’s nothing wrong with claiming asylum. It’s an important right,” Senator Keneally said.

“However, in 90 per cent of these particular cases, the individuals are not legitimate refugees and are often being trafficked to Australia for the explicit purpose of being exploited”…

Labor is warning Australia is on track to post a new annual record for asylum seeker arrivals by air.

It said 4,037 aeroplane arrivals have made a claim for protection between 1 July 2019 and 19 August 2019…

Senator Keneally has called the figures a crisis, citing concerns for those arriving by plane being exposed to “exploitation, slavery and even sexual servitude across the country”…

“The truth is we have no idea how many aeroplane people may have been critically injured or even died … because of exploitation and slavery that is taking place under his nose”…

Its chair Liberal MP Jason Wood issued a warning over criminal syndicates exploiting vulnerable arrivals.

“Organised crime and illegitimate labour-hire companies are using this loophole to bring out illegal workers who are often vulnerable and open to exploitation,” he said.

“This enables these criminal elements to exploit foreign workers in Australia until their claims are finalised.”

John Coyne, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s head of border security, recently raised similar concerns:

“Organised crime are indeed facilitating unlawful migration on a fee-for-service basis, using methodologies from fake identity documents, to gaming Australia’s visa system”…

“Australia’s border security arrangements are being exploited, and individuals who have not been appropriately identified are at times entering the country”.

“The Australian black economy is indeed being supported by organised crime, who along with businesses involved, are using these methods to exploit workers, and those involved are not paying taxes and are often remitting their salaries out of the country”…

The best graphical illustration of the rise in ‘plane people’ entering Australia is the explosion in Bridging Visas, which are typically handed to migrants awaiting decisions on permanent residency through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT):

As shown above, the number of Bridging visas on issue has roughly doubled since the Coalition was elected in 2013, numbering 205,000 as at June 2019.

Back in July, former High Court Justice, Ian Callinan claimed that the AAT has been inundated with spurious asylum seeker claims, fuelled in part by organised criminals:

[Ian Callinan] said “almost everyone” with migration law experience had told him there were applic­ants and representatives who “game the system, well knowing there is an automatic entitlement to a bridging visa”.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority told Mr Callinan that delays had repercussions beyond the AAT. It told him it was aware that organised crimin­als were sometimes, “perhaps even regularly”, benefiting from fake vocational training prog­rams or “ghost’’ colleges…

The AAT now handles about 59,000 lodgements a year: more than half (52 per cent) are migra­tion and refugee cases…

The AAT’s caseload of migra­tion and refugee matters doubled in the two years to June 30 last year…

Thus, while the Coalition pretends that it is strong on border control because it has “stopped the boats”, bogus asylum seekers are pouring into Australia via plane.

However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. The reality is that Australia’s borders have become increasingly porous, with visa scamming occurring through a variety of channels, including:

  • Migrants arriving by plane lodging bogus asylum applications;
  • International students undertaking spurious courses for working rights and subsequent permanent residency;
  • Illegal labour hire firms, people smugglers and criminal syndicates facilitating undocumented migrants to work for below market rates; and
  • Businesses using pretend ‘skills shortages’ to hire temporary migrant workers at below market rates.

The visa rorting is systemic and has permeated across the entire Australian economy.

And now we’re going to privatise it?


Exploitative visa system undercuts Australian workers

Federal Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash has called on businesses to invest more in workforce training. Noting that it costs companies on average $28,000 to replace an employee, Cash claims that one of the main reasons why people leave their job is that they are unsatisfied with their skills development. Cash says that spending more on workforce training would help to boost productivity. From The AFR:

“The reality is that business investment in workplace training has been going in the wrong direction for some time,” Senator Cash said.

“But business needs to play its part. Workforce planning is not simply a problem for government, and the solution will lie with industry as well.”

Work-related training has fallen across all age groups, dropping from 26.9 per cent in 2013 to 21.5 per cent in 2016–17…

“That’s stark evidence and a call for employers to invest more in the skills development of their employees to make their businesses more sustainable. A trained workforce brings greater productivity returns and better wages,” Senator Cash said.

Why would Australian businesses bother to employ and train locals when they can instead grab a cheap migrant worker?

The pool of migrant workers has swelled across Australia, many of whom work for below-market rates:

The federal government has also set the pay floor for temporary ‘skilled’ migrant workers at just $53,900, which is $34,349 below the current average full-time Australian salary of $88,249, as well as $14,720 below the median full-time wage of $68,620, each of which comprise both skilled and unskilled workers.

This appallingly low pay floor has strongly incentivised businesses to ‘grab’ a cheap migrant worker over employing and training a local. As noted by Joanna Howe in the recent book, Wage Crisis in Australia:

Scarcely a day goes by without another headline of wage theft involving temporary migrant workers… it exposes a very real wages crisis facing workers on the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (formerly the 457 visa) in Australia. This crisis has been precipitated by the federal government’s decision to freeze the salary floor for temporary skilled migrant workers since 2013… the government has chosen to put downward pressure on real wages for temporary skilled migrants, thereby surreptitiously allowing the TSS visa to be used in lower-paid jobs…

Renowned Australian demographer Graeme Hugo observed that employers ‘will always have a “demand” for foreign workers if it results in a lowering of their costs’. The simplistic notion that employers will only go to the trouble and expense of making a TSS visa application when they want to meet a skill shortage skims over a range of motives an employer may have for using the TSS visa. These could be a reluctance to invest in training for existing or prospective staff, or a desire to move towards a deunionised workforce. Additionally, for some employers, there could be a belief that, despite the requirement that TSS visa workers be employed on equivalent terms to locals, it is easier to avoid paying market salary rates and conditions for temporary migrant workers who have been recognised as being in a vulnerable labour market position. A recent example of this is the massive underpayments of chefs and cooks employed by Australia’s largest high-end restaurant business, Rockpool Dining Group, which found that visa holders were being paid at levels just above TSMIT but well below the award when taking into account the amount of overtime being done…

Put simply, temporary demand for migrant workers often creates a permanent need for them in the labour market. Research shows that in industries where employers have turned to temporary migrants en masse, it erodes wages and conditions in these industries over time, making them less attractive to locals…

Not surprisingly then, migrants took 83% of Australian jobs created between 2011 and 2016, according to research from Professor Peter McDonald from Melbourne University:

From July 2011 to July 2016, employment in Australia increased by 738,800. Immigrants accounted for 613,400 of the total increase…

The ACTU has also blamed unfettered employer access to migrant workers for limiting the job opportunities and training of local workers [my emphasis]:

Wright and Constantin (2015) surveyed employers using the 457 visa scheme and found that 86% state that they have experienced challenges recruiting workers locally. Despite identified recruiting difficulties, the survey found that fewer than 1 in one hundred employers surveyed had addressed ‘skill shortages’ by raising the salary being offered. Labour ‘shortages’ should first be addressed through a readjustment in the price of labour – increased wages. An inability to find local workers to work at a specified wage rate, coupled with an unwillingness to offer higher wages, does not necessarily imply a skill shortage – particularly where local workers would be willing and able to work if the wage rate was lifted. This differs from a skill shortage in which there are simply not enough people with a particular skill to meet demand.

The relatively recent availability of a large and vulnerable pool of temporary migrant workers has undoubtedly contributed to current record low levels of wages growth and a growing reluctance by employers to train local workers…

While there are approximately 1.5 million temporary entrants with work rights, the overseas worker team at the Fair Work Ombudsman consists of only 17 full time inspectors to investigate cases of exploitation – over 80,000 visa workers per inspector. Inadequate enforcement and penalties act as an incentive for employers to exploit temporary workers when the benefit from doing so outweighs the cost of the penalty. or where the probability of being caught is sufficiently low….

Allowing the mass importation of migrant workers bypasses the ordinary functioning of the labour market by enabling employers to source cheap foreign labour in lieu of raising wages, as well as abrogating the need for training.

So rather than waxing lyrical about investing in workforce training, the federal government should place a minimum salary floor of $100,000 on each skilled visa, both temporary and permanent, as well as stem the flow of international students into Australia’s universities, which has hit plague proportions.

Implementing these measures would ensure the visa system is used only for specialised high skilled workers that Australia cannot foster domestically, rather than being used by employers as a general labour market tool to undercut local workers and reduce wage costs.

Australia’s weak wage growth, and the lack of job opportunities and training, won’t improve otherwise.


Australia’s outdated official job list leaves students, businesses in limbo trying to get visas

Two people pose in front of a treePHOTO: Zerub Roberts (left) and Neelima Pallanti are aspiring data scientists. (Supplied)

Australia’s fastest-growing jobs are not recognised on the nation’s official list of occupations.

Key points:

  • Australia’s official list of occupations is out of date
  • That means businesses are struggling to fill vacancies and migrants face uncertain futures
  • The Bureau of Statistics states it will cost an extra $4 million in funding for a review, but the Government cannot find the money

It is causing problems in Australia’s immigration program as businesses clamour to find in-demand workers.

None of the five jobs named as Australia’s fastest growing by LinkedIn in 2018 are contained within the standard worker classification, known as ANZSCO, although jobs like weight loss consultant and amusement centre manager are.

That means businesses wanting to recruit overseas workers in these occupations are unable to, or they face extra hurdles to get approval.

And people desperate to live and work in Australia with these in-demand skillsets have no certainty over when they can settle or how to plan their studies.

Although a review of the list has been almost universally demanded, the Government has confirmed none would occur until after the 2021 census.

Zerub Roberts, who has recently completed his masters at Deakin University, came to Australia from India to pursue local education and work in data science, alongside his partner Neelima Pallanti.

Data scientist or data analyst is not on the list, so he is having to adapt his experience to the occupation of ICT business analyst for his visa application, including spending on a $10,000 course with the Australian Computer Society.

He is now on a two-year graduate visa facing a race against time to collect enough experience and qualifications for his application.

“If I don’t manage to secure permanent residency in two years, that would be very unfortunate,” he said.

“I just hope we won’t end up regretting this major decision we took two years ago to come to Australia.”

Widespread calls for review

Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) senior economist Gabriela D’Souza said the migration program had become splintered.

“Instead of embarking on new programs like the Global Talent Scheme, we should really be trying to fix the problems with the frameworks,” she said.

She said one of the “faulty” frameworks was the outdated ANZSCO list.

“Our last review was in 2013 — some of the jobs we have today weren’t a thing in 2013,” Ms D’Souza said.

“But now they are heavily part of the growing tech sector and the Government needs to initiate a review soon.”

According to Ms D’Souza, if a business advertises for a position not on the ANZSCO list, it cannot submit those ads in its application as proof that it has tried to find local workers.

Instead, it must advertise again with the listed occupation, prompting months of delays.

And some applications that attempt to shoe-horn new jobs into listed occupations are rejected, triggering delays and additional fees.

Jenny Lambert, the director of employment, education and training at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said even if the list review was commenced now “it will be closer to 2022 before the review is completed, well over 10 years since the last update”.

“The migration program has had to put in place ‘workarounds’,” she said, referring to recent special migration pathways such as the Global Talent Scheme that do not rely on the occupation codes.

“But these schemes have limitations such as higher salary thresholds which mean they are not a realistic option for many employers who may need the skills.

“The future of work is here now, but the way we measure these changes is being substantially inhibited by the lack of an up-to-date statistical view of the jobs that are in the economy.”

Groups specifically calling for a review to the list in a recent Senate inquiry include:

  • The Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union
  • Tourism Accommodation Australia
  • Universities Australia
  • The Law Council
  • Restaurant & Catering Australia
  • The National Farmers’ Federation

No prioritisation

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), which manages the list, told the inquiry a review would be labour and resource intensive and would cost over $4 million.

“Unfortunately, at this point in time key stakeholders were not able to offer any user funding to the ABS for this purpose,” it said.

A spokesperson for Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar, who has responsibility for the ABS, said work was underway to update skill levels for certain occupations on the list.

“This work, which is expected to be completed in coming months, will assist key agencies using ANZSCO to administer skilled migration policies and will be available on the ABS website.”

However, there will be no prioritisation of the review.

“The ABS has advised that the timing of a full review is currently under consideration but would be unlikely before the 2021 census,” he said.

Tips to apply for a perfect student visa application

Tips to apply for a perfect student visa application
Photo: Vinta Supply Co., Pexels.

There is nothing surprising if you have selected Australia as a destination for your further studies. Australia is home to a lot of the world’s best universities and institutions. Not just the universities, it is the most developed nation in terms of technology and advancements. The study mechanism followed in Australia is the best and most affordable by the students appearing from different countries. The country has some of the best tourist attractions and for the international students, it is considered the most friendly and welcoming place where everyone can adjust no matter from which corner of the world they belong.

Once you know, what do you want to study for your higher education and from where in Australia, you tend to start thinking about the application process. When you want to file the application, some important factors need to be considered.

The selection of the right institution, to the various character and health requirements and the finances proofs. As it may seem a bit discouraging or difficult to fill a visa application, but if you follow the given points as suggested by the Migration Agent Adelaide, it would create greater chances of getting your visa application granted. If you have any further queries for student visa subclass 500, then you can check beneath mentioned details.

Tips to apply for a perfect student visa application
Photo: Anastasiya, Pexels.

Understanding the requirements

Before starting the process of making the application for a visa, you should be sure enough to be able to study in Australia and comply with the different requirements that need to be met. Some of those general requirements to fulfill and satisfy any of the student visa subclass 500 and other visas are:

Stability regarding finances: It is quite a basic requirement of any visa application for the purpose of visiting or studying in Australia that you need to prove to the Australian government about your financial position and need to state that you can very well afford your stay in Australia.

Academic Requirements: Some of the courses need to the fulfillment of certain grades in your academics to be able to enroll yourself into a course in Australia. The different institutions have different enrolment criteria.

English language competence: To be able to study in Australia, you need to have a good grip on the written and spoken the English language. This competence is also required to be proved to the Australian government through the various English language assessment provided by different providers.

The wise selection of institution

You can only gain access to a student visa if your selected institution is registered under CRICOS where CRICOS stands for Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students. This authority is simply a list of education providers where the overseas students are given enrolment, recruitment and taught. You should always opt for an institution which is registered under the CRICOS.

Assuring your chosen course complete the requirements

For gaining access to Australian student visa 500, you must be enrolled in a full-time course which is at least 3 months long. The level of education enrolled should be either of the following:

  • Higher-education tertiary course
  • Intensive English Language course
  • Post-graduate
  • Short course
  • Primary school or high school
  • Vocational education and training course

Application process research

The various institutions follow different requirements for applying to study in their institution. Hence, it is necessary to check whether you are following the right application process or not. It is recommended to check with your education provider before proceeding with the application.

Before applying for the visa, make sure you have your COE

If you are applying for a student visa 500, you must make sure you have received your COE (Confirmation of Enrolment) from the institution you have applied into. The application process for a visa requires the confirmation of your enrolment into a CRICOS registered institution.

Health checkup activity

Before applying for a visa, you need to get your health checkups done and get certified health insurance from a registered health insurance provider and Australian Government requires proof of complete health check examination while making an application for the visa.

Tips to apply for a perfect student visa application
Photo: Stanley Morales, Pexels.

Be ready with all the required documents

You should always be ready with the documents that the Australian Government had provided in its handy list to let you know about the requirement of each. Always keep your documents ready before applying for the visa application. The different and most important documents required for the visa application are the financial records, health insurance, English language requirements, and many others. Keep these documents handy with you while applying for the visa.

Revise the application

This is kind of very obvious thing which goes without saying. Once the application is completed, it should be revised again and again to check if any error is encountered before submitting the application. Revising the application repeatedly is an important part of the application process. This might save you from getting your visa application refused or rejected.

Preparing for the interview

Just as you prepare yourself for any job interview, be prepared for your visa interview as well. Below mentioned are a few things you should keep in mind while preparing yourself for the interview:

  • Read your application repeatedly to make sure you know every detail about your application.
  • You might be asked questions relating to your Statement of purpose, make sure you know what is written in your statement of purpose.
  • Make a thorough research of the questions you might be asked. Generally, the questions may be related to your reasons for selecting Australia as your destination for higher studies, reasons for selecting the particular course and institution, the relevance of your selected course with your future plans, etc.
  • Perform practice sessions of the interview with your family members and make yourself familiar with the answers to potential questions.
  • While in the interview, appear confident and perform well, as the immigration official will keep a watch on your attitude while the interview performance and will also judge you on the basis of your confidence.

These are the things our expert migration agent Adelaide suggests every applicant keep in mind to make sure they do not fail to follow while applying for the visa application.


International students gush through visa system holes

Over the past few years, multiple examples have come to light highlighting the rorting of Australia’s visa system by international students.

First, the surge in temporary bridging visas – from 107,191 in 2014 to 229,242 in 2019 – has been driven overwhelmingly by international students appealing their migration decisions en masse to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) in a bid to extend their stays:

Victorian Liberal MP Jason Wood, the chair of the joint standing committee on migration, said the backlog of cases at the AAT was “outrageous” and argued that the appeals process was “working in favour of the visa holder and not necessarily the Australian taxpayer”. He said foreign students could game the system to extend their stay by several years — an outcome which he said would deny Australian citizens more part time jobs.

Indeed, Chinese students drove an absurd 311% increase in asylum seeker claims, according to The ABC:

The number of Chinese nationals applying for refugee asylum in Australia has risen by 311 per cent in just one year, according to figures from the Department of Home Affairs…

Refugee Council of Australia director of policy Joyce Chia told the ABC the number of student visas had increased with the booming international student industry in Australia… Many claimants are arriving on temporary migrant visas such as international student visas…

Associate professor of law at Murdoch University Mary Anne Kenny said… “Once you are in the country, either as a tourist or a student, if you then apply for a protection visa, you are eligible for a bridging visa… It doesn’t cost very much to make an application and you can then extend your period of stay here”…

Experts say the significant number of appealing applicants who do not show up to hearings raises further concerns that the process is being abused by fraudulent claims in a bid by some visa holders to extend their stay…

The average time the AAT took to decide migration cases was about a year, allowing students who had a visa cancelled or expired to extend their stay by appealing.

If unsuccessful they could then apply for a protection visa, which took an average time of about eight months to be decided…

Associate professor Anne Kenny said it was possible the number of false claims was rising because word was spreading among temporary visa arrivals of the success of others in lengthening their stay.

Second, regional migration schemes have been systemically reported, especially by international students from the Indian Sub-Continent.

For example, last year it was revealed that students from the Sub-Continent were using state-based migration programs in Tasmania and the ACT as a way to gain backdoor permanent residency into Sydney and Melbourne.

The rorting was endemic in the ACT, where large numbers of international students flooded into the Territory to study at private colleges for one year and gain permanent residency:

“When the subclass 190 visa popped up, the students started streaming in,” Min Gurung, marketing and sales manager from JP International College, in Mawson said. The college experienced an increase of 300-400 students in the past year, with many students moving to the ACT with their partners and young families…

Unity College in Belconnen experienced an almost two-fold increase in its student numbers to about 50…

Some operators of the colleges are reluctant to speak out, with one reporting his institution had about 100 students before July last year. In the past year, that number grew to about 300 students…

It’s believed up to eight colleges have opened in the past year and more applications could be in the works…

Yesterday, Fairfax reported more rorting, with international students fraudulently paying a foreigner for fabricated work histories and prerequisite English-language results in order to obtain the Cert III in Security:

Victoria Police sent suspension letters last week to about 400 guards working across the security industry over allegations that “false, forged and/or fraudulently obtained documentation” was used to obtain their security licences…

Industry sources say many of the guards were on international student visas… they are said to have paid hundreds of dollars to a man police are now trying to locate who allegedly helped them falsify applications… It is understood that person, who sources believe has since fled the country, now forms part of the police investigation…

“It’s become a joke really. You’ve got registered training organisations churning out graduates who can’t even use a radio, let alone defuse a dangerous situation.

“And a lot of the foreign blokes don’t have any English [language skills], which makes it hard for them to deal with crowds,” [a security insider] said.

None of this should be surprising. Cheating on English-language tests and university courses is widespread among international students. So rorting Australia’s visa system is to be expected.