A possie in Aussie

October 5, 2009

Pass the IELTS? Do not learn English if you want a visa

Why do so many international students have problems with the level of English language they need for their studies?

Why do so many people on skilled visas not get jobs in Australia, even though they are highly qualified?

Because it is possible to pass the IELTS at a high level with barely a word of English.

International students and skilled migrants are required to have high-level IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores to get Australian visas.

In a submission to the senate inquiry into international student conditions, the University of Melbourne Graduate Student Association advocacy service argues that more funding should be allocated to language support for international students and that it is the responsibility of the University to provide this support.

In another submission, N. K. Aggarwal raises the question “do the students really come to Australia to study or simply use the Governments’ permitted method to attain permanent residence? Nearly 95 % of the overseas students attending vocational courses, settle down in Australia permanently”.

Study and employment are indeed secondary goals for many, whose primary aim is PR (permanent residency).

It is because of the PR Holy Grail that many scams have developed, including the one I was made privy to this weekend – books published in Chinese that give all of the questions that a candidate will come across in the IELTS exam, with the answers. Imposters. Secret documents. That’s the Australian visa business

There are for example 200 Reading texts used for the IELTS, which cycles through those randomly to produce each ‘unique’ test.

Chinese candidates can learn to look for two or three key words in the texts which alert them to which answers to give. This of course requires a lot of dedicated rote learning, but is much quicker than trying to actually become proficient in English at this level.

It would be a good idea to find a better testing system, rather than spending millions on remediation once the students and migrants are ion Australia.

Post script: A quote from Andrew Bartlett’s submission, which I wholeheartedly approve, but also want extended to the Chinese who arrived in 2005-2006 on 457 visas:

“It is grossly unfair to encourage international students to come on the promise of permanent residency, and then change the rules after they have arrived.”


September 26, 2009

Nearly 1,500 boat people: should we worry?

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,boat people,refugee,visas — Nayano @ 8:41 am
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Before we start worrying about the numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat this year in Australia (nearly 1,500), let’s have a look at all the numbers.

The asylum seekers processed on Christmas Island who are found to have genuine claims to refugee status (and that seems to be nearly 100% so far) will be given visas in the Humanitarian category.

The numbers of visas in this category have hardly changed in the decades since the upper limit was legislated. The upper limit for 2008-09 was 13,500.

This is only 4% of the total migration of people hoping to make a home in Australia.

The numbers for 2007-08 were

Humanitarian (refugees) 13,014

Skilled 108 540

Family (Family reunion) 49 870

New Zealand settlers 34 491

Special (distinguished talent) 220

Skilled Long Stay Temporary Business visas 110,570 (although these are ‘temporary’ many workers take these visas as a pathway to permanency).

That’s a total of 316,705 people.

Let’s keep it in perspective.

Numbers from Permanent Migration to Australia – An Overview by Eligibility Category and

Temporary Migrants in Australia

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.

January 12, 2009

International Migration Outlook 2008 (and something extra :-)

Filed under: 457 visas — Nayano @ 3:27 pm
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The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development) has released the International Migration Outlook 2008. The Outlook provides an annual update on migration in OECD countries, and this year’s report has a special emphasis on temporary work migration. This year’s report has a focus on Temporary Labour Migration: An Illusory Promise?

For a view of Chinese on temporary work visas in Australia go to ‘Chinese Checked’

New Zealanders continue to migrate to Australia for work (and other reasons). Recently one was stopped at Australian immigration control and asked if he had a criminal record.

He said  “I didn’t think you still needed one.”

January 8, 2009

Fearful times

Filed under: refugee — Nayano @ 10:58 am
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Well founded fearA Well-Founded Fear is a documentary about Phil Glendenning’s search for the asylum seekers Howard’s Australia rejected. The film follows him as he travels through Afghanistan, Syria, Turkey, Iran and Canada, and it was shown on SBS last November.

The blogger at Roadside Assistance says it will be available on DVD shortly, and in the meantime we can visit the Well Founded Fear site

January 6, 2009

Temporary bull

Filed under: refugee — Nayano @ 6:19 pm
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Liberal Leader Malcolm Turnbull says that the Rudd government’s decision to give refugees permanent visas instead of three-year Temporary Protection Visas has made Australia more attractive to people smugglers, and that was why more boatloads have started arriving.
After the increase in arrivals of asylum seekers by boat in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Temporary Protection Visa was introduced by the Howard government to deter future arrivals. The TPV did not work. It was not until interdiction was increased and ‘migration zones’ excised from northern Australia that the numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat decreased.
In fact, the decrease in numbers of people seeking asylum everywhere in the world was the main cause of the drop-off in numbers arriving in Australia from 2003 onwards.
Recent international research has shown that policies that try to restrict the rights of refugees after they have arrived (like the TPV) have little or no influence on flows of asylum seekers (Cornelius, Martin and Hollifield 2004, Holzer, Schneider and Widmer 2000, Robinson and Segrott 2002).
Since 2007 numbers of asylum seekers have been increasing again in all countries, and Australia is now beginning to receive its share.

January 5, 2009

‘PR’, the best address

Filed under: Permanency — Nayano @ 7:45 am
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They call it ‘PR’. I learnt that way to refer to ‘Permanent Residence’  because I talk with a lot of migrants on temporary visas – like the 457 -who talk about nothing else. None ever mistake ‘PR’ for ‘public relations’.

People will do almost anything for it – making them open to scams such as that described in ‘Foreign students exploited’ on 23 December in the Straits Times.

The Immigration Minister recently announced that the Critical Skills list has been changed – causing thousands of students who had signed up for TAFE courses in the ‘old’ critical skills such as commercial cookery to rush to change their enrolments.

There are many students in Australian educational courses who are completing them solely to get PR.

January 3, 2009

Chinese checked

Filed under: 457 visas — Nayano @ 7:25 pm
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There are thousands of families across Australia who arrived in 2005 -2006 on regional temporary skilled migration visas. Most were sourced by abattoirs to provide slaughter men, boners etc. Their visa conditions were the same as for other migrants on these visas – that is, that they could apply for permanent residency, leading to citizenship, if they worked well in their new jobs for 2 years. What was different is that the Australian government waived the requirement to meet 4.5 of the IELTS test in English proficiency.

The 2 years are up, their employer wants them to stay, but the terms of their visas have suddenly been changed, and they must learn English in the next 12 months, or be returned to China. They must achieve IELTS level 4.5 but currently most would be at IELTS level 1 or 2.

They are not entitled to any government-funded services, or NGO settlement support programs funded through government grants.

They are not entitled to government-funded English lessons, but now must achieve a high level of English competency within the next 12 months.

You can listen to  me speak about this or read the transcript of the broadcast I made for ABC Radio National’s ‘Perspective’ program

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