Natasha Chaku, PTI (Melbourne), June 23, 2009
Indian students have been placed in the high risk group for visa breaches in Australia along with Bangladeshis and Cambodians, a development that may result in tightening of immigration rules for them.
Based on a review of the student visa programme by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship across all applicant countries, Indians were bracketed with Bangladeshis and Cambodians as a ‘level-four’ risk, which is the second highest risk category.
The student visa programme assessment level was raised from three to four after last year’s review by the Immigration department. No nationalities have currently been placed at level-five, the highest risk category.
Experts say the upgrade may result in significant tightening of rules for Indian students and can affect the demand for their enrolments.
Under the new measure, Indians seeking education in Australia, will now have to prove they have enough funds to survive for the duration of their study and pass more stringent English language tests.
Immigration risk levels for Indian students were upgraded after a department audit that found that in 2006-07, 4.66 per cent of the 58,268 Indian nationals granted visas breached their conditions, compared with an average rate among foreign students of 1.32 per cent, an Immigration department said.
The number of Indian students studying in Australia has risen dramatically in recent years, from 11,313 in 2002 to 96,739 last year, Immigration department spokesperson added.
In 2007-08 the unlawful rate among Indian students was 1.48 per cent of a total 87,145 Indian visa-holders, compared with 0.99 per cent for the average foreign student.
While in May this year offshore applications for Indian students grew by 20 per cent as compared to last year, statistics for this month have till date remained the same as compared to June last year despite the attacks on Indian students being widely publicised.
The number of Indian students enrolled in Australia stood at 47,639 in the period between July 2007 to June 2008. The number was 38,162 in the period between July 2008 to February 2009.