Learn­ing to get tough on visas

Thou­sands of for­eign stu­dents kicked out

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Federal Politics - SHERADYN HOLDERHEAD

MORE than 3000 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents were booted from Aus­tralia and a fur­ther 13,000 blocked from en­ter­ing amid a gov­ern­ment crack­down on im­mi­gra­tion fraud.

The Home Af­fairs De­part­ment re­views lists of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents each week to en­sure the sys­tem is not be­ing rorted by for­eign­ers want­ing work rights in Aus­tralia.

It checks up on stu­dents whose last recorded study was more than two months ago but they still have more than six months on their visa.

The gov­ern­ment is pre­par­ing to over­haul the visa sys­tem as part of its new pop­u­la­tion pol­icy, which is ex­pected to be an­nounced next month.

Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son has sin­gled out tem­po­rary visas, in­clud­ing stu­dent visas, for new re­stric­tions that would force for­eign­ers into re­gional ar­eas and small cities.

Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter David Cole­man said the stu­dent visa pro­gram must work in the na­tion’s in­ter­est.

“The gov­ern­ment will not tol­er­ate fraud and mis­con­duct by those seek­ing to study in Aus­tralia,” he said. “In­ter­na­tional stu­dents seek­ing to study in Aus­tralia should be mo­ti­vated by Aus­tralia’s world-class ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. While in­ter­na­tional stu­dents are granted re­stricted work rights while in Aus­tralia, stu­dents found to be work­ing in breach of these work rights are li­able to have their visa can­celled.”

Lat­est Home Af­fairs fig­ures show 3182 stu­dents had their visa can­celled while they were in Aus­tralia, while a fur­ther 13,398 visas were can­celled while they were over­seas. Among them, 19 visas were can­celled on char­ac­ter grounds which in­cludes per­pe­tra­tors of as­sault and drug crime.

At the end of June there were al­most 487,000 stu­dent visa hold­ers in Aus­tralia, with 23 per cent from China and 14 per cent from In­dia. Mr Cole­man said the gov­ern­ment was un­der­tak­ing a holis­tic re­view of all visa pro­grams.

“The stu­dent visa pro­gram is very pos­i­tive for the econ­omy and any po­ten­tial changes will be taken in con­sul­ta­tion with the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor, and with a view to en­sur­ing that the pro­gram con­tin­ues to work in the in­ter­est of all Aus­tralians,” he said.

Stu­dent visas can be for up to five years but the gov­ern­ment must be no­ti­fied of any changes to course en­rol­ments. Ed­u­ca­tion providers were also re­quired to re­port when for­eign stu­dents were reg­u­larly tru­ant, fail­ing or not pay­ing fees.

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