Overseas students seeking to land Australian residency after they graduate have become victims of tougher rules for skilled migration.
This month the Department of Immigration and Citizenship will announce a new Skilled Occupation List for Migration (SOL) and changes to other visa categories, which will jeopardize many students’ plans to use study as a path to migration.
Reports have suggested the changes will reduce or end students’ ability to use their studies of in-demand trades such as cookery and accounting to support applications for permanent residency.
According to the coverage in Sydney Morning Herald visa reviews may ‘spark panic’ amongst those of the 137,000 overseas students in Australia who have made, or intend to make, applications.
In 2001 the Howard government encouraged migration-driven international student enrolments, allowing any overseas student who had completed post-school qualifications in Australia to apply for a skilled permanent residency visa.
Under the government’s system a ‘skilled migrant’ had to get 120 points to get permanent residency. A qualification on the SOL list is worth 60 points, and one on the MODL (Migration Occupations in Demand List) is worth 65 points.
Yet now the MODL has been abolished and the number of SOL categories will be reduced.
According to Wesa Chau, honorary president of the Australian Federation of International Students, said. “Students who pay to study in Australia and have a secondary aim to seek permanent residency after they finish their course are now left directionless.”
Nalumi Qin, from ACIC (Australia College Information Center), said 95% student clients of hers had planned to immigrate and 90% of them were now affected by these policy changes.
Change plans as the policy changing
Qiuchen Xie, studying in a TAFE school in Sydney, has been in Australia for four years. He said the ongoing changes to immigration policy brought many troubles to him. “ I thought I wanted to stay in Australia and I changed my major from Marketing to Cookery after one and half years studying, because it was easy to get immigration by studying courses like Cookery and Hairdressing.”
“ After I got the certification and passed the Professional Assessment Test, the policy changed the requirement of IELTS test for immigration. When I passed it, the policy changed again and they took off the Cookery from the list, so it’s a waste of last two years’ studying.”
Xie said he would wait for the new SOL and continue to study an on-list major in Australia with the hope to immigrate successfully before the policy changes again.
Suffer great expenses
Qiwen Guan recently changed her 2-year course in Accounting to 1.5-year one, when she knew her major couldn’t help her get permanent residency.
She said: “The tuition in my university rise up every year, and the housing rent and transportation fee is getting more and more expensive, so I want to finish my degree as soon as possible and go back to find a good job. Staying here is just wasting the money and time.”
She chose her course just because her agent in China told her it could help her immigrate to Australia. “If I knew the policy would be so unstable, I would not choose it.”
Even though Australian colleges and universities treat foreign students like cash cows, they receive no assistance from their schools when policies change, nor are there any government agencies that can help them. So who will take responsibility for their loss – or should they vote with their feet?Tags: immigration, overseas student, SOL