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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Australia Tightens Student Visa Rules Amid Record Migration Levels

Australia is set to implement stricter visa regulations for foreign students in response to soaring migration rates, exacerbating existing challenges in the rental market. These changes come as the government aims to address concerns over the integrity of the migration system and its impact on various sectors.

Increased English Language Requirements and Enforcement Measures

Effective immediately, Australia will enhance English language proficiency criteria for student and graduate visas. Additionally, authorities will possess the authority to suspend educational institutions found repeatedly violating regulations related to international student recruitment.

Introduction of Genuine Student Test and No Further Stay Conditions

To deter individuals from exploiting student visas for employment purposes, a new “genuine student test” will be implemented. Furthermore, “no further stay” conditions will be imposed more rigorously on visitor visas, aiming to uphold the integrity of the immigration system.

Reversing COVID-era Concessions and Impact on Migration Intake

Last year saw the Australian government’s efforts to roll back COVID-era concessions, including unrestricted work hours for international students, with the goal of reducing migration intake by up to half over a two-year period. These measures were introduced to address labor shortages exacerbated by the pandemic’s border closures.

Surge in Migration Numbers and Population Growth

Recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed a significant surge in net immigration, reaching a record 548,800 individuals in the year ending September 30, 2023. This influx, driven primarily by students from India, China, and the Philippines, has contributed to Australia’s population growth, which soared to 26.8 million people, marking the fastest pace on record.

Impact on Rental Market and Labour Supply

The influx of foreign workers and students has further strained Australia’s already tight rental market. With rental vacancies at record lows and construction costs impeding new supply, pressure mounts on housing affordability. While the surge in migration has expanded the labor pool and mitigated wage pressures, it has simultaneously exacerbated housing challenges.

Government’s Response and Decline in Migration Levels

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil emphasized the government’s proactive measures to curb migration levels, citing a 35% decrease in recent international student visa grants compared to the previous year. These actions aim to strike a balance between supporting businesses’ recruitment needs and alleviating strain on housing and infrastructure.

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