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The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, today welcomed the final report of the Baird Review on the legislation governing international education.

It is most pleasing to note Mr Baird’s support for the Rudd Government’s changes to the skilled migration program announced on 8 February 2010.

The skilled migration program changes will encourage overseas students to focus on obtaining a quality education from a high quality provider by removing incentives for students to apply for a course simply in the hope of being granted permanent residence.

Under the changes, the wide-ranging migration occupations in demand list was revoked and will be replaced mid-year by a new and more targeted skilled occupations list to be developed by the independent body, Skills Australia.

The new skilled occupations list will be tightly focused on high value skills that will assist in addressing Australia’s future skills needs. It will deliver a mix of skills across the professions and trades in areas such as healthcare, engineering and mining.

International students currently studying in Australia who hold a vocational, higher education or postgraduate student visa will still be able to apply for permanent residence if their occupation is on the new skilled occupations list.

Students currently studying a course in an occupation that is not on the new skilled occupations list will have until the end of 2012 to apply for a temporary skilled graduate visa which will enable them to spend up to 18 months in Australia to acquire work experience and find an Australian employer willing to sponsor them.

It must be remembered that a student visa is just that: a visa to study. It does not give someone an automatic entitlement to permanent residence.

International students should be focused on obtaining a good qualification from a quality education provider in a field in which they want to work. The changes will in no way impact on international students coming to Australia to gain a legitimate qualification and then return home.

Similarly, Australia’s migration program is not and should not be determined by the courses studied by international students.

Australia will continue to welcome international students and provide an opportunity for those who have the necessary qualifications and skills to find an Australian employer willing to sponsor them for a permanent visa.

Source  :  www.immigov.au

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Below are links to new Comlaw information on:

1 Which occupations will require a new skills assessment after 1 January 2010, and

2 Which offshore applicants will need to have worked for 12 of the 24 months before the date of the application in the actual nominated occupation.

http://www.comlaw.gov.au/ComLa…020AF17?OpenDocument

http://www.comlaw.gov.au/ComLa…09143+-+LI+-+JRT.doc

http://www.comlaw.gov.au/ComLa…143+-+ES+-+Final.doc

No need for offshore applicants to obtain a new skills assessment as far as I can see.

Cheers,

George Lombard

__________________
Migration Agent Registration Number 9601056
george[at]austimmigration[dot]com[dot]au
www.austimmigration.com.au

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THE education export industry has to find a new way to prosper now that the government has made it harder for would-be migrants to use study as a route to permanent residency, social researcher Bob Birrell says.

In the Monash University journal People and Place, Dr Birrell said the industry, whose phenomenal growth had been helped by foreign students seeking permanent residency as skilled migrants, had reached a crossroads.

Dr Birrell is co-director of Monash’s Centre for Population and Urban Research, People and Place’s publisher.

He said a change to the skilled migration rules in December last year, coupled with other reforms, would put permanent residency beyond the reach of many former overseas students with poor English, little work experience and low-value qualifications in hospitality and cooking.

“Those providers who have built their business around marketing a credential that will lead to permanent residence must refocus their business,” he said. “They need to sell credentials that overseas students believe they can take back to their country of origin with profit.”

But Dennis Murray, executive director of the International Education Association of Australia, said the new rules would have little effect on universities although they would cut growth in hospitality courses. “We don’t see a wholesale collapse of the industry, which is what Bob would like to see,” he said.

Dr Birrell argued the appeal of permanent residency and lax rules for skilled migration delivered strong growth in business and information technology courses at universities in the early 2000s and even more dramatic growth since 2005 in hospitality, cooking and hairdressing courses at private colleges and TAFE institutes.

But the education business had come to distort the migration program, producing graduates ill-equipped or uninterested in the jobs they were supposedly trained for. Dr Birrell said the government took a stand, culminating in the tough new rules of December last year, but the surge in student numbers had carried through into the first few months of this year, for which there was official data.

“My expectation would be that the enrolments in the hospitality area will decline significantly once the message gets back via the recruitment network to the countries of origin,” he said.

Dr Birrell said higher education also would lose fee income because graduates in accounting, a field that had enjoyed strong growth, had to have better English or take on an extra year of professional training.

But he said the government needed to back its tough policy changes with a clearer message to the industry. Instead, it had allowed more than 40,000 former students to stay on temporary and bridging visas, even though most had little chance of securing permanent residency. Most had taken up temporary visas created to soften the blow of September 2007 reforms aimed at the poor English and poor employment prospects of former students.

Dr Birrell said another, sizeable group had found a loophole. In the year to May the Department of Immigration and Citizenship had allowed 15,417 former students to apply for permanent residency as skilled migrants, despite their lacking occupations on the tough new critical skills list ushered in last December. The department had put off the processing of applications by those lacking critical skills, meaning these students remained on bridging visas.

The department’s decision to accept these applications, and the $2105 fee, was “contentious and unwise” because it suggested these students eventually might win permanent residency despite not meeting the tight new rules.

“I think there’s something of a battle going on within government as to which should be given priority: the maintenance of the (overseas student) industry on the one hand and dealing with the immigration problems generated by it on the other,” Dr Birrell said.

An Immigration Department spokesman said the government was pursuing a more carefully targeted migration program, given the difficult economic times.

“Australia is giving priority to those people sponsored by employers or on the critical skills list, thus ensuring the nation gets people with the skills the economy and employers need,” he said.

Source  :  www.theaustralian.news.com.au

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Foreign students could be forced to leave – Research your migration agent first

SCORES of foreign students, suspected of using bogus documents to support permanent residency applications, have been discovered by Federal Government migration fraud investigators.

More than 60 students, whose documents were initially accepted as genuine by the Government, will be forced to leave Australia if they are unable to prove their documents are authentic.

It is the latest indication that rorting in the lucrative $15.5 billion international education industry — the nation’s third-biggest export earner — is a serious problem, which could undermine the integrity of Australia’s education and immigration systems.

The students are suspected of using fake references from employers, which claim to show they have 900 hours’ work experience in a job related to their area of study.

Foreign students are required to provide evidence of 900 hours’ work experience to support their applications for permanent residency.

Sources in the international education industry have told The Age some students pay up to $20,000 to rogue college operators or middlemen, such as unscrupulous migration agents or education agents, to obtain fake paperwork.

Trades Recognition Australia (TRA) is the body nominated by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to assess skills, including those of foreign students. Under the Australian migration system, a successful skills assessment by TRA can be used by foreign students to support their permanent residency applications.

In the last financial year, TRA received 34,180 applications for skills assessment, about 10,000 of which were from foreign students. TRA initially accepted the documents of the students in question as genuine. But after the Federal Government received information suggesting their paperwork could be bogus, it sent letters to the students threatening to revoke their successful skills assessments if they did not prove their documents were authentic within 28 days.

More than 60 such letters have been sent to foreign students since the start of the year, with 48 sent last month alone.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, which investigates matters relating to international education refuses to say how many students have already had successful skills assessments revoked.

“Disclosing departmental actions as part of quality control and fraud measure could adversely impact on the administration of the program,” the department said in a statement to The Age.

The students are believed to be either close to the expiry of their student visas or on bridging visas. Either way, they will be expected to leave the country within 28 days if they are unable to prove their documents are genuine.

The identification of students suspected of using bogus documents follows the discovery of an alleged racket uncovered by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in March.

Three migration agents were allegedly providing fake documentation to support permanent residency applications for foreign students based on their claimed skills in a number of occupations, including cooking, hairdressing, horticulture work and car mechanics.

Investigations are continuing into possible offences relating to forgery and migration fraud, which carry penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Source  :  www.theage.com.au

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