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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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The Migration Institute of Australia supports calls for a Senate Inquiry into international education in Australia.   Studying 

The sector deserves closer scrutiny by government, including an attempt to crack down on education agents here and overseas who, unlike migration agents, can act without regulation. It is an industry too valuable to be hijacked by illegal and unethical behaviour by either desperate visa seekers or unscrupulous operators.

If migration agents are involved they will be barred from the profession. This behaviour is not tolerated in the migration profession. Students who need immigration or visa advice should only rely on registered migration agents.

Once arriving here, international students deserve the wholehearted support of the Australian community and it is loathsome that those seeking an education may be targeted by violent offenders. We can’t let a valuable Australian educational experience be tainted by the shocking behaviour of the few.

Source  www.mia.org.au

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Job creation and capital works projects will form the cornerstone of this year’s state budget, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett says. 

The WA government on Thursday will deliver its first budget since elected last year.

“It will be responsible and I think you will see it supports maintaining  jobs and supports the future development of this state,” Mr Barnett said on Wednesday.

“And you will see not only that, but a number of measures designed to maintain jobs, particularly in the small- to medium-size business sector.”

The government is under pressure to maintain a surplus after Mr Barnett’s commitment to deliver surpluses in the next two budgets.

While seeking to maintain the state’s AAA credit rating, the government is also facing demands from WA’s peak business lobby to deliver on an election promise to cut taxes by $250 million.

Mr Barnett said the state’s budget and finances would need some “rejigging” to match a $263 million federal government commitment in Wednesday’s federal budget to put the Perth rail line and bus station underground.

“Yes, we will have to have some rejigging of the state budget and finances because we originally sought 50/50 funding just to sink the rail line,” Mr Barnett said.

“The commonwealth’s taken up the point. It was an issue I discussed with the prime minister in Perth about three weeks ago and I just made the point to him quite informally that if we’re going to sink the rail line it would actually be commonsense to sink the bus station too …

“He’s obviously taken it on board so we’re going to make sure that happens.”

The federal government also pledged $339 million for a deepwater port at Oakajee, in the state’s midwest, which will boost iron ore exports in the region.

The WA government had already spent about $20 million on Oakajee and private proponents were now spending $100 million on the design of the deepwater port and rail line, he said. Continued…

www.watoday.com.au

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