A possie in Aussie

December 16, 2009

The media, not the Immigration Department, panics international students PR

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald Visa review may ‘spark panic’ is, surprise surprise (!) itself sparking panic among international students in Australia.

Google that headline, and the majority of hits are in Chinese –reflecting the numbers of Chinese students in Australia who came here in the hope and expectation of gaining permanent residency at the end of their studies.

The SMH article leads with this:

“TENS of thousands of overseas students studying expensive courses in Australia in the hope of securing permanent residency could be sent home empty-handed under changes being considered by the Federal Government.

“The Herald has obtained a document prepared by the Immigration Department recommending changes ”in the relationship between the lodgement of an application and the legal obligation to grant a visa”.

In other words, the media is again inciting a panic where the factual basis is very thin. ‘A change in the relationship’ could mean almost anything, and, as the Herald article says, way down in the body of the text:

“A spokesman for the department said the document was part of a consultation process and no decision would be made on the changes until next year.”

Note: ‘Consultation’ means consultation. Not decision.

The Interim Report of the Review of the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 that was conducted by Bruce Baird of the review of the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000 has recently been released, and will be part of the consultation. Baird doesn’t suggest that the link between studying and migration be broken or even weakened, and for any changes to be  grandfathered where possible.

The Senate Committee Report into the Welfare of International Students, which will also be consulted, gives the ‘Committee view’ as

2.24     The committee accepts the evidence that over time a perception has developed that a student visa may provide an automatic pathway to permanent residency, despite this not being the case. This perception has in turn been exploited by some education agents and providers who have used the perception of permanent residency to recruit students and then provide them with inadequate education or training.

2.25      The committee endorses steps that have been taken to ensure that international students coming to Australia to study are fully cognisant of the rules that apply to them and make it clear that separate and distinct processes are involved and that the requirements for permanent residency visas change from time to time in response to the requirements of the labour market.

2.26      In most cases, exploitation starts overseas with expectations fuelled by unscrupulous education agents advertising courses solely as a means to permanent residency. Regulation of providers and quality are discussed in chapter four and agents are discussed in more detail in chapter five.

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November 19, 2009

Do you know someone experiencing visa difficulties right now?

Filed under: Foreign Students,migration,PR,visas — Nayano @ 12:15 pm
Tags: , ,

I am at the International Conference on Migration, Citizenship and Intercultural Relations in Melbourne at the moment.

Just heard a great lecture from Stephen Castles – much to think about! Castles predicts that by 2050 the birth rate will have decreased in the Global South to the level of that now in the Global North.

Castles asked the audience a  question I have heard asked once or twice before – but it is still a good one: ‘raise  your hand if you were born in Australia’.

Answer for this audience – about one quarter.

My mind wandered (as it usually does, even in a lecture as good as Castles’) and I thought of a question I would like to ask Australian audiences:

‘How many of you have a friend or relative experiencing visa difficulties right now?’

My answer: 2 close relatives, one very close friend, and many other friends.

How about you?

October 10, 2009

Why do Indians want permanent residency in Australia?

More than 75,000 Indian students were undertaking courses in Australia last year, the second largest number of foreigners in Australian colleges and universities.

Why are they coming here from India?

Geoff Maslen at Crikey says:

“Almost 60% of India’s 1.15 billion people are under the age of 25 yet there are only places for 7% of college-age students in post-secondary school institutions.”

The majority now in Australia are in private vocational education colleges “where the main aim on completion appears to be permanent residency (PR)”.

So, why do they want PR in Australia so badly?

A 2006 study asked that question and found that Indian students here are in three main groups:

  1. Those who originally came to study, discovered that they were part of a ‘culture of migration’ and slowly ‘longed’ to stay
  2. Student loans are disproportionate to salaries in India
  3. But a huge group came for PR alone – for a better lifestyle, clean air, good infrastructure, safer society, better public facilities, better job opportunities. These students cannot see themselves profiting from new opportunities being created in India. In addition, having a family member abroad is prestigious.

August 29, 2009

Union asks for ban on foreign students in trade jobs

The Australian Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) is concerned that international student students will work for very little or for nothing to get the experience that they need to apply for permanent residency. Calls for review of Australian visa holders work rights

The Union wants the Federal Government to examine the effect visiting students have on the job market.

The ABC quotes union boss Bob Kinnaird:

“In order to qualify for a permanent resident visa, which is what a lot of the 45,000 people on these work visas are really after, they have to establish 12 months’ skilled work experience in the occupation that they’re nominating.

“We [know] from research and our own experience that some overseas graduates are so desperate to get permanent residence that they’re prepared to take low and in some cases to take no wages at all, in order to qualify for the 12 months.

“Overseas students must be treated with respect and dignity, but we are concerned by the rights of Australian workers and young people in particular. Foreign students ‘competing for Australian jobs’

The CFMEU has told a Senate inquiry that all trade occupations should be immediately removed from eligible occupations for overseas student graduates.

Professor Chris Nyland from Melbourne’s Monash University and Professor Simon Marginson from Melbourne University say the benefits of a $13 billion international student industry balances out such labour market concerns.

The honorary president of the Australian Federation of International Students, Wesa Chau, says it would be unfair to prevent overseas students from working in Australia.

But the point is not that the students are being engaged as workers – rather, they are being exploited for low pay or even no pay because of their desperation to get Permanent Residency. Shonky Australian training courses lead to PR, bashings and death. It is this rort that must be stamped out – not legitimate jobs for overseas students.

August 1, 2009

Rapacious agents chase international students

Migration agents mobbed international students as they left a meeting about the closure of their Sydney college, making offers to find them better deals overseas, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The Herald quotes a community welfare student, Sandeep Kaur, who said she was annoyed consultants were trying to offer a better deal on an education in Canada.

‘‘Everybody’s here to make money. Nothing for us, no emotions, nothing,’’ she said. ‘‘That’s our business, take this and come to us.’’

David Barrow, the president of the National Union of Students, said greater regulatory protection for international students was needed.

‘‘This country has been treating international students like cash cows,’’ he said.

‘‘Everywhere you go where there’s international students, there’s people trying to take advantage of them.’’ Students offered sterling deals in Canada

Andrew Bartlett blogs at Crikey that

There are now reports that the education sector is trying to crack down on so-called ‘rogue education agents’.  It’s hard to see how that achieves anything more than window dressing.  The previous government specifically exempted education agents from the regulatory requirements which currently apply to migration agents. 

This has left these agents completely outside existing controls, beyond the normal laws regarding fraud and the like.  The Migration Agents Registration Authority, which polices the conduct of migration agents, can’t touch education agents.  Nor can they touch those who falsely claim to be migration agents, or those operating offshore who provide misleading advice.  The International Student mess

Larvatus Prodeo comments on Andrew’s article:

“I hope the government is careful in how it reforms the rules surrounding Australian study and immigration. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the current rules for gaining permanent residency, a lot of students have enrolled in courses on that basis; kicking the ground from under them now is not only going to hurt a lot of students, it might further damage Australia’s international reputation.

But reform is necessary.” The international student mess

July 18, 2009

How to make a corrupt immigration system

“If you wanted to make a corrupt system, this is absolutely how you would do it”  –

Managing Director of Australian Immigration Law Services, Karl Konrad, quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald this week about the foreign student situation in Australia.

Mr Konrad, who has a reputation as a whistle blower, said colleges and employers had a dangerous amount of power over their students, who faced deportation if their enrolment was cancelled. Foreign students exploited as slaves

Immigration analyst, Bob Kinnaird, said the previous government was deliberately  “selling an education industry in the guise of a migration policy” when they changed the rules for overseas students from 2001 onwards.

The Sydney Morning Herald provides this chart of how the rules changed to allow the current highly-profitable and exploitative system:

HOW THE RULES CHANGED

– 1992 Private providers allowed to offer training courses.

– 2001 Graduating overseas students allowed to apply for residency without returning home.

– 2005 Trades students required to complete 900 hours of work experience. Many begin to work unpaid; some even pay for their positions. Some training organisations open businesses staffed by their own students.

– 2008 New regulation foreshadowed stipulating work experience must be paid and kept at arm’s length from the trainer. The regulation was never introduced.

– 2009 Priority given to applicants who are sponsored by Australian employers or state governments. Second priority given to those whose skills are listed on a critical skills list, but students of trades such as hairdressing and cooking can obtain an employer-sponsored permanent visa. the demand for placements outstrips the supply

July 16, 2009

Failed your exam? Go to jail!

Guy Healy of the Australian reports that thirty-six overseas students, some as young as 18, are being held in immigration detention for breaching study visa conditions. 36 overseas students in detention

Most of the student visa holders are from China, but others come from India and Pakistan – and India in particular has become sensitive to issues with their student in Australia in recent months. Bashings of Indian students

A student visa can be cancelled for a variety of reasons, including failure to meet course requirements such as “passing subjects” and “attending class”.

A department spokesperson said most of those in detention had overstayed their visas. None had been locked up “simply for breaching attendance requirements or failing to meet minimum course requirements”, although these could be factors in non-compliance with visa conditions.

The Immigration Department, however, insists that none was locked up solely for failing to meet course requirements. The Department claims that student visa holders currently in detention had either ‘posed an unacceptable risk to the community’, or had ‘repeatedly refused to comply with visa conditions’.

I know that Immigration has changed since the bad old Howard days when there was a culture of harshness and flagrant breaches of human rights. Pamela Curr reminded us recently  of the Howard days:

Pamela relates a story of an Indian student who she know who, in 2003, had successfully passed his exams for 3 years when the course at his university changed structure.

“The old course structure was available at another university nearby.

“He transferred his enrolment with permission from both universities.

“His father transferred the funds to pay for a full year upfront as required.

“He then went to the Department of Immigration to notify them of the changes in accordance with his student visa provisions. He was placed in a small interview room, locked in, his passport was taken and one hour later he was escorted down stairs to the basement by two burly officers and put in a van with covered windows. He was told that he had breached his visa conditions by not informing the department BEFORE he changed his enrolment.

“He was sent to Maribyrnong Detention Centre.

“The Department demanded $4,000 dollars and an air ticket to India which departed within 10 days to release him from detention. He left.

“Some students failed exams, some could not pay their fees and some worked an extra hour or two in a week. Overseas students were subject to compliance raids in the middle of the night instigated by anonymous dob-ins. When their passports and visas were found to be in order, the laundry basket was searched for evidence of working hours by over- zealous compliance officers.  www.asrc.org.au

I hope that my impression of a new attitude in the Department of Immigration does extend to compliance section.

July 4, 2009

Shonky Australian training courses lead to PR, bashings and death

Filed under: 457,457 visas,Indian students,Permanency — Nayano @ 8:23 am
Tags: , , ,

Hamish McDonald writes about The racket no one dares name in today’s Brisbane Times.

The racket? Study in Australia, with the prize of ‘PR’. (Permanent Residency)

I have personal experience of this in the case of children of 457 visa holders desperate for their families not to have to return to China. They research the occupations that DIAC says are needed in Australia and sign up for courses not with the intention to fulfill their dreams, but to win PR for themselves, and they then can sponsor their families. Chinese checked

McDonald reminds us that it used to be the case that foreign students were in fact students, not residents-in-waiting, and that if people who studied here wanted to apply for a further visa once their study was finished, they had to return home to do so. Many were accepted under this scheme.

It was the government of John Howard that introduced the current system so that graduates could apply for residency while still in Australia, and later trade courses were added to the scheme.

Mc Donald says

“Neither education providers or their student customers care about the quality of training, as long as the documentation is in order for the residency application and the cursory inspections are passed.

“In the process, Australia has been cementing a reputation for shonkiness, for making the quick bucks instead of investing in growth, and for not being really interested in India except to make money out of it.”

And now Australia is working hard to tell India that we really really care about their children studying here. New plan aims to stop foreign student attacks

While they are bashed, and disproportionate numbers commit suicide. More suicides uncovered among overseas students

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