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Australia to Tighten Visa Rules for Intl Students; Tougher English Tests and More to Fix

Australia is set to tighten visa rules for international students and low-skilled workers that could halve its migrant intake over the next two years as the government looks to overhaul what it said was a “broken” migration system.

As per the new plan, international students would need to secure higher ratings on English tests and there would be more scrutiny on a student’s second visa application that would prolong their stay.

“Our strategy will bring migration numbers back to normal,” Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said during a media briefing. “But it’s not just about numbers. It’s not just about this moment and the experience of migration our country is having at this time. This is about Australia’s future.”

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‘System is broken’

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese over the weekend said Australia’s migration numbers needed to be wound back to a “sustainable level,” adding that “the system is broken.” O’Neil said the government’s targeted reforms were already putting downward pressure on net overseas migration and will further contribute to an expected decline in migrant numbers.

The decision comes after roughly half a million temporary migrants entered the country in the last year, a post-pandemic boom after years of closed borders. The government believes its reforms — along with short-term trends — will bring the number closer to 250,000 in 2024-2025.


‘Migration by international students’

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The Australian Home Minister said international students mostly drove the increase in net overseas migration in 2022-23. Shares of IDP Education, which provides placement and education services to international students, were down more than 3% in afternoon trade. Australia boosted its annual migration numbers last year to help businesses recruit staff to fill shortages after the Covid-19 pandemic brought strict border controls, and kept foreign students and workers out for nearly two years.

However, the sudden influx of foreign workers and students has exacerbated pressure on an already tight rental market, with homelessness on the rise in the country. A survey done for the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Monday said 62% of Australian voters said the country’s migration intake was too high. Despite near-record employment rates, Australians are increasingly frustrated at soaring prices and an eye-watering real estate market.

Long reliant on immigration to supply what is now one of the tightest labour markets in the world, Australia’s Labor government has pushed to speed up the entry of highly skilled workers and smooth their path to permanent residency. A new specialist visa for highly skilled workers will be set up with the processing time set at one week, helping businesses recruit top migrants amid tough competition with other developed economies.

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    (With agency inputs)

    RohitRohit is sub-editor at News18.com and covers international news. He previously w…Read More

    Location: Sydney, Australia

    first published: December 11, 2023, 09:56 IST

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