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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Assessment level changes for student visas from 1st of Sept 2008

The immigration department has undertaken a review of the student visa Assessment Levels (ALs). This review resulted in changes to the Assessment Levels for 52 countries in one or more education sectors.

The changes are specified in legislative instruments that are available on the Commonwealth of Australia Law website.
See: ComLaw

The new Assessment Levels will be in effect from 1 September 2008. Student visa applications lodged on or after 1 September 2008 will be subject to these new Assessment Levels.

As of 1 September 2008 Form 1219i Overseas Student Program - Assessment Levels will reflect the new Assessment Levels.
See: Student Assessment Levels - 1 September 2008 (184KB PDF file)

Note: The two errors previously identified in the legislative instruments specifying Assessment Levels have been corrected. All Assessment Level changes will be in effect from 1 September 2008.

Assessment Levels and the Student Visa Program

A record number of more than 278,000 student visas were granted in the 2007-08 program year. This represents more than 21 per cent growth in the student visa program in one year.

The department considers each of these student visa applications on their individual merits. Assessment Levels (ALs) streamline this process, allowing the department to deliver fast and efficient service to our clients while maintaining the integrity of Australia’s immigration program.

Transparency in visa requirements and consistent decisions are a pivotal part of the student visa program. In 2007-08, visas were granted to students from over 190 different countries. Assessment Levels, as an objective measure of immigration risk for each of these student groups, are a key tool in determining visa requirements and enable consistency in decisions across this diverse range of clients.

There are five Assessment Levels in the student visa program. They serve to align student visa requirements to the immigration risk posed by applicants from a particular country studying in a particular education sector. Assessment Level 1 represents the lowest immigration risk and Assessment Level 5 the highest. The higher the Assessment Level, the greater the evidence an applicant is required to demonstrate to support their claims for the grant of a student visa.

How are Assessment Levels determined?

Each country, across each education sector, is assigned an Assessment Level which is based on the calculated immigration risk posed by students from that country studying in that education sector.

To determine the Assessment Level of a particular country and education sector, the department examines that group’s compliance with their visa conditions and other indicators of their immigration risk in the previous year.

Where these statistical indicators show that a group has a higher level of immigration risk over a sustained period, the department responds to this trend by raising the Assessment Level of that group. In effect, this requires applicants to submit a higher level of evidence to support their claims that they wish to study in Australia.

Where a group’s indicators demonstrate that they tend to abide by their visa conditions, these lower immigration risk groups have their Assessment Level lowered. This streamlines the visa process by reducing the level of evidence that these applicants need to submit to support their claims for a student visa.

The department regularly undertakes a comprehensive risk assessment of the entire student visa caseload and reviews the Assessment Levels to ensure that they align to the immigration risk of groups.

What Assessment Level am I?

The passport you hold and the education sector of your principal course will determine the Assessment Level of your visa application.

To identify the Assessment Level for your visa application, match your passport type with the visa subclass for the education sector of your principal course.

Form 1219i contains a list of the current Assessment Levels for all passports and education sectors. Your Assessment Level is the one in effect for your passport and visa subclass on the date that you lodged a valid application with the department.

See: Information form 1219i Overseas Student Program - Assessment Levels (58KB PDF file)

If your passport is not listed in the table on Form 1219i you will be subject to Assessment Level 3. If you are sponsored by AusAID or Defence and are applying for a subclass 576 – AusAID/Defence student visa you will be subject to Assessment Level 2.

What Assessment Level are my family members?

Your family members may be eligible to apply for a visa to accompany you to Australia. Family members are subject to the same Assessment Level as the student, regardless of the type of passport the family member holds.
See: Bringing Family

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tougher immigration rules for Indian students,25197,24284358-12332,00.html

AN immigration crackdown will make it harder to recruit students from India, the fast-growing big market in Australia's $12.5 billion education export industry.

University of NSW's pro vice-chancellor (international) Jennie Lang told the HES all universities were likely to have urged students to get their visa applications lodged and processed before the September1 change in immigration risk levels, which affects a host of overseas markets.

"We will also be encouraging (Department of Immigration and Citizenship) staff in offshore posts to ensure that university sector applicants are given priority," Ms Lang said.

A spokesperson from the department said "genuine applicants had nothing to fear from the changes".

According to the latest official data, there were 65,000 Indian students in Australia in the year to June, mostly in vocational education. Although they make up a smaller market than the Chinese, the Indian growth rate is much higher: student numbers from India grew by 55 per cent, compared with 19per cent from China.

The China market, however, benefits in the latest revision of immigration risk, which is based on factors such as rates of document fraud, visa overstay and asylum claims, as well as applications for non-skilled residency for a spouse, for example.

Hong Kong-based international education consultant Alan Olsen told the HES that the change affecting the China market was particularly significant. He said demand for places in English language colleges was likely to increase sharply.

"I think we would all agree that, ahead of events like World Expo in Shanghai in 2010, the learning of English by hospitality staff in China is one of the world's great needs," he said.

Another beneficiary of the immigration change is Saudi Arabia, which has been reclassified as representing the lowest risk level.

Qatar, Oman and Brazil also shifted to the lowest of the five possible levels of immigration risk category; 23 countries now have that rating. Their students are eligible to make online applications offshore.

In all, 43 countries have been judged less risky.

India was not alone in moving up the risk scale. Visa applicants from Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, Jordan, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Romania and Zimbabwe will have to do more to show they are genuine students.

They will have to give extra evidence of their capacity to support themselves financially, especially with savings histories.

The status of these nine countries had been changed "to combat increased levels of immigration risk", the department spokesperson said.

The risk levels are set across various sectors, including English language courses, vocational education and higher degrees.

The higher risk assessment affects all sectors of the Indian education market, which moved up by one level.

Although the risk level for would-be students from Iran had not been raised, the Iranian Government had been warned this could happen if negative trends continued.

In the latest year-to-date figures from Australian Education International, there were more than 392,000 overseas students in Australia, representing almost a 20 per cent increase inenrolments.

India, China and Nepal continued to be strong growth markets, but those such as Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan continued to decline.

Vocational education was the fastest-growing sector, up 46.5per cent overall, while university enrolments increased by 2.7 per cent and commencements by 10.1 per cent.

English language courses were up by about 28 per cent.