Australia’s net overseas migration expected to decline, government tightens student visa approval

The approval of international student visas for Australia is expected to decline by more than 90,000 in the current financial year with the reduction attributed to the increasing number of rejections by the federal government, which is aiming to control high levels of temporary migration.

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Australia’s net overseas migration, particularly in the realm of international student visas, has reportedly reached a turning point, with data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggesting a decline in student approvals exceeding 90,000 for the current financial year.

The government’s tightening of visa approvals is cited as the primary reason for this reduction, with concerns over integrity issues, including fraudulent documents and non-genuine claims.

Rejected applications
Data from the Department of Home Affairs shows that the number of visas granted to international students decreased to 139,132 in the first half of the financial year, with nearly 20 percent of applications being rejected.

According to Phil Honeywood, CEO of the International Education Association of Australia, the decline in the number of international student visas is linked to the government’s efforts to tighten visa approvals for applicants primarily seeking work rights rather than genuine study purposes.

The total number of student visas approved, including those for non-residents already in Australia, was 195,934. This figure is expected to be significantly lower than the record 577,295 visas granted in the previous financial year (2022-2023).

The decline in student visas is attributed to an increasing number of rejections, with only 81 percent of student visa requests being approved in the last six months.

This marks a decrease from 86 percent in 2022-23, 91.5 percent in 2021-22, and 89.9 percent in the pre-COVID year of 2018-19. 

Integrity of student visa program
A spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs noted the need for a balance between visa approvals and maintaining the integrity of the student visa program. 

The department highlighted escalating concerns about integrity within the program, including higher instances of fraudulent documents, fraud linked to English language testing, non-genuine claims, and non-genuine subsequent marriages being detected in student visa applications. This underscores the government’s commitment to addressing integrity issues within the system.

Education Minister Jason Clare expressed commitment from the Labor government to enhance the reputation of Australia’s higher education sector and combat exploitation. 

He said that the migration strategy and other integrity measures implemented by the Albanese government are a clear message that they will take action to prevent student exploitation and safeguard Australia’s standing as a top-notch international education provider.

Global effort
There is a global effort to restrict student migration, with Canada aiming to reduce its numbers by announcing a two-year cap on foreign students, resulting in a 35 percent decrease.

Meanwhile, Britain has implemented
measures to prohibit foreign students from bringing dependents.

Abul Rizvi, a migration expert and former immigration department official, suggested that the decrease in student visa approvals indicates the government’s attempt to reduce net migration and alleviate pressure on infrastructure and the housing market.

Opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan has accused the Labor party of pursuing a “Big Australia policy,” alleging that it has permitted a record intake of international students, contributing to a surge in overseas migration to a record 518,000 people.

He claims that this has exacerbated housing shortages, rent hikes, and a cost-of-living crisis for Australians due to population growth.

Falling approval rate
The approval rate for visas granted to international students in the university education sector alone has fallen to 82.5 percent since July, down from 87.5 percent in 2022-23 and 96 percent in 2021-22.

 

In the past six months, 98,198 student visas have been granted for study in the higher education sector, marking a decline from 261,317 visas granted in the entire year of 2022-23, which was the highest in more than a decade.

 

Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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