Prospective international students coming into Australia will be able to express their intent to migrate in their visa applications, under new reforms announced by the Federal Government.
Currently overseas student applicants must meet the requirement of being a Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) where purpose of staying in Australia is limited to the scope of a “quality” tertiary education for the term of a university degree.
To pass the GTE, a 300-word statement must be provided detailing the applicant’s personal circumstances surrounding the decision of an overseas education, but they cannot declare any intention to gain a residency in Australia through the program.
Candidates who try to use the student visa pathway merely as a means of working and living Down Under are flatly rejected.
But with the incumbent Labor government’s push for increased immigration activity after recent reviews revealed significant deficiencies in the sector, it is understood this GTE condition will be axed and the policy will be amended to permit aspiring migrants.
International students will be able to declare their intent for Australian migration while submitting visa applications.
It is understood visa requirements will move to a Genuine Student Test (GST) instead, which will allow for the consideration of high-skilled applicants that can contribute to Australia’s workforce upon completion of their studies and help combat the nation’s labour shortage.
One of the key growth areas identified in the Migration Review’s final report released in March stated: “Australia is not focused enough on capturing high potential international students”.
“The migration system has supported strong growth in the education export sector. The Student visa program should be an important source of high-performing, skilled migrants but has not delivered on its potential,” the report said.
It recommended Student Visa settings be expanded to ensure the country’s labour force was maximising the “opportunity to support and retain the best and brightest” university graduates and move to introduce a GST pathway.
Key figures from the education sector have long been pushing for the reform, which they argue could greatly help fill vocational vacancies that domestic workers aren’t taking up.
“They throw them out if you dare mention that you would like to get a migration outcome from study in Australia, you are automatically denied a student visa,” CEO of the International Education Association of Australia Phil Honeywood told The Australian.
“Too many genuine student applicants have been denied entry merely for being honest about what they hope to achieve when they graduate with a world-class Australian qualification,”
“For those who do want to stay – and if we want to attract the skills that we need particularly in STEM and allied health – then we’re cutting off our nose despite our face by denying them entry because they wouldn’t mind migrating to Australia.”
There is the risk however, of the changes potentially leading to an upsurge in sham visa submissions from applicants not looking to engage in education at all.
In April, several Australian universities announced they would be imposing restrictions on students from certain parts of South Asia after finding a rampant pattern of fraudulent visa applications.
There is also the critique of an increase in net migration leading to an even worse-off housing market, given the nation’s crippling housing supply issues at present.
According to the budget papers in March, Australia’s net overseas migration is set to soar by 750,000 people over the next two years and almost 1.5 million within the next five.
Labor has faced mounting calls from the Greens and the Coalition for further investment into affordable housing but instead moved towards a $3 billion funding commitment to build 1.2 million homes over the next five years.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has called these “the most significant reforms to housing policy in a generation”.