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Posts Tagged ‘Senator Chris Evans’

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 $18000 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.

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?

 

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A new educational resource kit on citizenship will provide school children across the country with a greater understanding of our civic responsibilities and what it means to be an Australian citizen.

The school resource book – I am Australian: Exploring Australian Citizenship – is designed to assist teachers to deliver more in-depth lessons on Australian citizenship and civics to upper primary and lower secondary school students.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said the school resource book will help students better understand the meaning and significance of Australian citizenship.

‘Knowledge of Australian citizenship and civic responsibilities is important for all Australians, no matter how they became citizens,’ Senator Evans said.

‘This will be a valuable learning tool for all students, not only for those who have come here from other countries, but also for those who have lived all their lives in Australia.

‘It will also help students appreciate the contribution made to Australia by people from diverse backgrounds, whose journey to Australia was completed when they became citizens.’

The school resource book contains classroom activities which are linked to the curricula of each state and territory and are specifically designed for upper primary and lower secondary school students. The activities relate to Australia’s democratic beliefs, Australian citizen case studies and what it means to be an Australian citizen.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has been producing citizenship resources for schools since 2001. The updated school resource book coincides with the 60th anniversary of Australian citizenship.

Since the first citizenship ceremony in 1949, more than four million people from more than 200 countries have become Australian citizens.

Senator Evans launched the new school resource book with Hindmarsh MP Steve Georganas at the Plympton Primary School in Adelaide, where the Minister conducted a citizenship ceremony for a student and his father.

Zhenguo (Ken) Yang, 43, and his son Pengyu (Kevin), 11, from the People’s Republic of China, became Australian citizens after migrating to Australia in 2005. Mr Yang, a network engineer, came to Australia with his wife Qihong (Linda) Ling, who is studying nursing, to pursue better educational and career opportunities for the family.

‘I congratulate Mr Yang and his son Kevin on their decision to become Australian citizens,’ Mr Georganas said.

‘Citizenship represents a commitment to Australia and its people, the values we share and our common future. It also symbolises our sense of belonging to the country where we have been born or have decided to make our home.’

Source  :  http://www.minister.immi.gov.au/media/media-releases/2009/ce09100.htm

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The new Australian citizenship test which assesses prospective new citizens on their understanding of Australian civics and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship commences Monday 19 October.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said the new test is based on the pledge of commitment that new Australians make when becoming citizens. Topics include Australia’s democratic beliefs, laws and government as well as the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.

The 20 multiple-choice questions in the new test have been written in plain English and will be conducted in English only. All test questions have been drawn from the testable section of the revised citizenship test resource book, Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond, which was launched in September.

The new test is not a general knowledge quiz about Australia,’ Senator Evans said. ‘We want people applying for citizenship to understand the values of Australian society, our democratic beliefs, our rights and our system of law and what it means to be an Australian citizen. ‘All prospective citizens should understand those concepts so all of the questions in the new citizenship test focus on the commitments that new citizens make in the pledge.’

The new test was developed after an independent review of the old citizenship test last year found that it could be improved by focusing on the pledge of commitment. People will now need to answer 75 per cent per cent or 15 of the 20 questions correctly to pass – up from 60 per cent under the old test.

However, the mandatory questions have been removed to make the test fairer. All questions are now equally important and a person can no longer answer 19 out of 20 questions correctly and still fail the test because they answered one of the three mandatory questions incorrectly. A citizenship course is also under development to help a small group of disadvantaged people, who for a range of reasons, such as limited literacy and schooling, are likely to struggle when preparing for and sitting a formal computer-based test.

This will ensure that we encourage people to become citizens without the test being a barrier,’ Senator Evans said. The citizenship test resource book, Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond, and practice citizenship test are available online.

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The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, today announced the establishment of the Council for Immigration Services and Status Resolution.

The council will provide independent advice on the implementation of measures associated with the government’s immigration policy initiatives including New Directions in Detention and the national rollout of the Community Status Resolution Service.

‘The Government’s focus is on resolving the immigration status of people quickly and fairly while ensuring they are treated humanely and with dignity and respect,’ Senator Evans said.

‘The council will provide independent advice on policies, services and programs to achieve timely, fair and effective resolution of immigration status for people seeking asylum or other migration outcomes in Australia.

‘The terms of reference and membership of the council reflects the range of expertise required to implement the Government’s New Directions in Detention policy.’

The council, which succeeds the Immigration Detention Advisory Group, will meet for the first time on October 21 to identify priority issues to be addressed over the next two years. The IDAG provided valuable advice on the adequacy of detention services, accommodation and facilities at immigration detention centres around Australia.

The new council will also advise on the suitability of facilities and service delivery arrangements but its major focus will be on assisting the department with strategies to resolve a person’s immigration status in a community setting rather than in a detention centre provided they pose no risk to the community.

The council will be chaired by Paris Aristotle AM, director of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture and a former member of Immigration Detention Advisory Group with more than 25 years’ experience in the field.

Other members will include:

  • Air Marshal Ray Funnell AC (Retd) – former Chief of Air Force and a former member of IDAG, Air Marshal Funnell will serve as the deputy chair for the group
  • Ms Kerrin Benson – chief executive officer of the Multicultural Development Association
  • Mr Noel Clement – general manager of domestic operations for the Australian Red Cross
  • Ms Caz Coleman – project director of the Hotham Mission asylum seeker project
  • Ms Libby Lloyd AM – chair of the former National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and was recently appointed to chair the Violence Against Women Advisory Group
  • Dr Maryanne Loughry – associate director of Jesuit Refugee Service–Australia. Dr Loughry is a psychologist, a research scholar at Boston College and the University of Oxford and a member of the Governing Council of the International Catholic Migration Commission
  • Associate Professor Harry Minas – director of the Centre for International Mental Health, University of Melbourne and the Victorian Transcultural Psychiatry Unit, he is a former member of IDAG and chair of the Detention Health Advisory Group (DeHAG)
  • Associate Professor Nicholas Procter – Associate Professor, school of nursing and midwifery, University of South Australia
  • Dr Jamal Rifi – Dr Rifi is the 2009 NSW Local Hero of the Year and Recipient of 2007 Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission Award. He is a former Commissioner for the Community Relations Commission for a Multicultural NSW, a general practitioner and an active community volunteer
  • Professor Samina Yasmeen – director of the Centre for Muslim States and Societies at the University of Western Australia and a current member of the Australian Multicultural Advisory Council (AMAC).
  • ‘I believe the new group will provide valuable perspectives and their community links will help to strengthen the provision of community services to immigration clients in support of timely case resolution,’ the minister said.

    The minister acknowledged the work of members of the previous Immigration Detention Advisory Group.

    ‘I’d like to acknowledge and thank the valuable and long–standing contribution of members of the Immigration Detention Advisory Group since its establishment in 2001,’ Senator Evans said.

    ‘Their independent expert advice provided to the previous and current government has been greatly appreciated.’

    Information about the Council for Immigration Services and Staus Resolution (CISSR) – Terms of Reference is available on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website.
    See: Council for Immigration Services and Staus Resolution (CISSR) – Terms of Reference

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    A new international agreement will boost Australia’s ability to detect and identify immigration fraud and cast a wider net when checking the backgrounds of unauthorised arrivals and other people held in immigration detention.

    The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said today that an agreement for biometric data-sharing between Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom was signed last night. Under the partnership, Australia will be able to securely and confidentially cross check fingerprints with Canadian and UK databases.

    Currently, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship collects fingerprints from all people in immigration detention, including irregular arrivals and illegal foreign fishers. It is expected fingerprint collection will be progressively rolled out to other people in the immigration caseload in the future.

    ‘The Australian Government’s ability to detect immigration and identity fraud will be greatly improved as a result of new biometric data-sharing arrangements with partner agencies in Canada and the United Kingdom,’ Senator Evans said. ‘This data-sharing will help to establish the true identities of unknown people, and ensure that fraudulent cases are dealt with appropriately through the improved ability to detect inconsistent identity and immigration claims.

    It will also help authorities to increase the chance of detecting people with criminal histories and other people of concern, aid in the timely removal of unlawful non-citizens where their identities and/or nationalities were previously unknown or uncertain, and improve detection of fraudulent immigration practices and trends.

    The new biometric data-sharing plan was developed at the Five Country Conference, which is a forum on immigration and border security between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The US is expected to join the data-sharing arrangement in due course.

    The benefits of international biometric data sharing were highlighted recently when an individual claiming asylum in the UK was found to have previously been fingerprinted in the USA while travelling on an Australian passport.

    The individual was subsequently confirmed as an Australian citizen wanted for sexual assault. The man was removed to Australia to face court, and is now serving a jail sentence.

    Senator Evans said the new data-sharing arrangements would not affect privacy laws.

    ‘The protection of personal information is important to all the countries involved in these arrangements. All data shared by my department will adhere to the Privacy Act 1988,’ the minister said.

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    The Department of Immigration and Citizenship is strengthening checks on student visa applications to stamp out fraud and ensure students have the financial capacity to live and study in Australia.

    The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans said today that applications for student visas grew by 20 per cent to 362 193 in 2008-09, with almost 28 000 student visas refused, an increase of 68 per cent on the number of refusals in 2007-08.

    ‘While overall student visa compliance rates remain high, there are elements of concern within this large caseload,’ the minister said.

    The targeted measures will address the potential for document fraud and other issues around financial capacity, identification and bona fides in some parts of the student caseload. The measures implemented with immediate effect include:

    • 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, and
    • restricting access to eVisa for some segments of the caseload if analysis demonstrates restricted access would allow for better control of fraud.

    The measures will target parts of the student visa caseload in India, Mauritius, Nepal, Brazil, Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

    ‘These measures are consistent with those used by other countries that receive large numbers of student visa applications, such as the United States,’ Senator Evans said.

    ‘Australia’s student visa program supports the entry of genuine international students. For those students, the department provides a convenient, efficient service.

    ‘The message is clear: genuine international students remain welcome in Australia, but we will not tolerate fraud in the student visa program.’

    The measures are part of the Government’s ongoing response to any changes in risk in visa programs and will build on work already conducted across the student visa program to combat fraud as it emerges. Similar arrangements are already in place for students from other countries, such as Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

    ‘Student visa requirements are aligned to the immigration risk presented by an applicant. The greater the risk identified, the more evidence required to be granted a student visa. Risk is determined by an objective analysis of visa compliance,’ Senator Evans said.

    The next formal review of student visa risk framework is scheduled for 2010. The data obtained from the enhanced checking of student visa applications will help inform future reviews.

    Source  :  http://www.minister.immi.gov.au/media/media-releases/2009/ce09075.htm

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