High visa grant rates for Nepalese fuel integrity concerns in Australia

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High visa grant rates for Nepalese fuel integrity concerns in Australia

The emergence of Nepal as Australia’s largest source of offshore students has fueled concerns that the visa programme has been misused as an “unsponsored work permits” scheme.

THE reported immigration expert Abul Rizvi as saying that the increasing number of approved student visa applications from the Himalayan nation suggests that loose restrictions may be enticing migrant labourers Down Under under the idea of studying.

She also stated that this might lead to an increase in labour-hire fraud and exploitation of foreign employees who are in “immigration limbo” since they do not meet the requirements for permanent residency. Meanwhile, in the journal Independent Australia, Dr Rizvi cautions that Australia may lose “higher-performing and extraordinary students to other nations due to the soiled reputation of our international education market.”

He also criticises the previous administration for lifting restrictions on the working hours of international students. “We are now perceived as frantic to recruit kids who are more concerned with labour rights than with educational quality.”

Nepal is also seeing a significantly higher “grant rate” – the proportion of visa applications approved – than it had for most of the previous decade. The percentage has jumped to 92% this fiscal year, after hovering around 80% in prior years. India and Pakistan had grant rates of 78 and 63%, respectively.

Nepal, like its subcontinental neighbours, is considered a “high risk” country for fake visa applications. When its grant rate last topped 90% in 2013-14, immigration officials initiated a crackdown in mid-2015, resulting in every second application being denied.

Visa data has been altered as a result of a processing delay, according to Sydney-based education agency Ravi Lochan Singh. He praised the increasing number of Nepalese higher education visas issued, but warned that the “very high” grant rate for private VET applicants was “not sustainable in the long run.”

Separate processing teams handled Nepalese and Indian student visas, with the former handled mostly in Delhi and the latter primarily in Perth, according to Mr. Singh.

Claire Field remarked that Covid had led Australia’s international education industry “into a new and slightly different realm.” She warned of unintended consequences if limitations on international students’ working hours are lifted, as well as the “incentive package” for abroad brokers who enrol their clients in state institutions. “The government must focus on maintaining the sector’s integrity as it rebuilds post-Covid.”

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