Australia tightens student visa rules

Australia tightens student visa rules

Australia is set to implement stricter visa regulations for foreign students starting this week, coinciding with a surge in migration figures that is expected to further strain an already constrained rental market.

Effective from the upcoming Saturday, heightened English language proficiency requirements will be imposed for student and graduate visas. Additionally, the government will be empowered to suspend educational institutions from recruiting international students if they repeatedly flout regulations.

According to Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil, these measures align with the migration strategy’s objectives to rectify inherited shortcomings in the system, consequently reducing migration levels.

To curb the influx of international students primarily seeking work opportunities, a new “genuine student test” will be introduced. Moreover, “no further stay” conditions will be applied more rigorously to visitor visas.

These actions follow a series of measures implemented last year to terminate COVID-era concessions, such as unrestricted working hours for international students. The government had then announced intentions to tighten regulations, potentially halving migrant intake over two years.

Australia augmented its annual migration intake in 2022 to address staffing shortages for businesses post-Covid-19. However, this influx of foreign workers and students has exacerbated pressures on the rental market.

Recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed a 60% surge in net immigration, reaching a record high of 548,800 individuals in the year ending September 30, 2023. This exceeded the previous figure of 518,000 people for the year ending June 2023.

Consequently, Australia’s population grew by 2.5%—its swiftest pace on record—reaching 26.8 million people by September of the same year.

The surge in migration, driven notably by students from India, China, and the Philippines, has expanded the labor pool and curbed wage pressures. However, it has further strained the housing market, with rental vacancies remaining at record lows and elevated construction costs hampering new supply.

O’Neil highlighted that government interventions since September have resulted in a decrease in migration levels, with recent international student visa grants plummeting by 35% compared to the previous year.

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