Australia’s 1st stage visa changes w.e.f. 5th Nov BUT I fear the “hidden ammunition” in the GTE criterion.

The world thought that Australia was making the visas easier with the forthcoming visa changes. However, now they should be a little unsure… The celebrations were indeed premature. DIAC is the real winner as it cleverly envelopes the real power hidden amongst the visa changes. The DIAC update from the office of the Assistant Secretary details the Implementation of stage one of the changes is proposed for 5 November 2011, including:

  • introduction of a new “genuine temporary entrant” criterion for all student visa applicants;
  • a reduction in the financial requirements for certain visa applicants;
  • removal of the English language test requirements for stand alone Assessment Level 4 and above English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) visa applicants;
  • increasing the visa period of all new Postgraduate Research (subclass 574) visa grants by six months to allow for interactive marking of a thesis;
  • amendments to student visa policy regarding prepaid homestay fees arranged through education providers; and
  • cessation of the student visa pre-visa assessment (PVA) arrangements.

More information on the changes is available from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website at:  www.immi.gov.au/students/knight/

I have been waiting for the details on GTE (Genuine  Temporary Entrant) criteria which I have thought of and have commented as the “hidden ammunition”. The details are now more detailed on the link. This is exactly where the DIAC has played its cards adeptly.

Some say it was a much needed ammunition in their hand as it removes the objectivity around the visas and injects some extreme subjectivity. Some may also feel that it is offering some flexibilities to the visa officers as they can now be a little lenient with the so-called “genuine” students.

While I have argued for some subjectivity and flexibility myself, I feel that that the GTE criterion is one such encompassing criterion that once we have that, we just do not need any other requirements for the visa. It has detailed every kind of situation under this and I really wonder why we need the AL system of any fund requirement at all from now on itself.

With GTE, the visa officers are now even more powerful (were they not already!). Let me not say anymore on this… Just read the attachment on the link after reading this blog and the various case studies and situations mentioned will indicate that one bad interview can “make or break” an application. Also the visa decision of the other countries will now have a bearing on the visa application to OZ.

I do wonder why many felt that Knight recommendations were going to make the visas very simple. The only and only way that it has, is by reducing the funds to be shown by six months for AL3 applicants from India but that has been balanced off by the increase in the forex conversion for Indian students to Rs 46 from Rs 41 per dollar.

Further, the abolishing of PVA will make the process “appear” to be time-efficient between the time visa is lodged and is decided. However, this is just a “superficial efficiency”. I say so since the time of visa processing will now begin a few weeks before the actual lodgment, even though it will now show up as lessening of DIAC processing times. It should be calculated  from when the student pays to the institution and applies for the eCOE, if the PVA stands abolished. Further, the abolishing of the PVA will mean that there are now other “disadvantages” caused to the Universities, Agents and also the Students. Let me elaborate my fears. If the visa is granted, it is all great. However going by the visa refusal rate in India of 50% (or more) (for established education agents it will be much less but overall the visa refusal rate is indeed 50% or about), the workload will now be huge at the end of institutions who will now have to create more number of eCOEs and there will be additional workload and inconveniences when the visas are refused for an applicant as refunds will now have to be organized. The student also loses out financially when the visa is refused since the refunds that are received will be converted back into local currency by the banks at the lower buying rates while the student converted the local currency to dollars at the higher selling rates of the banks. The agent will also have the “unpaid bother” in such cases. I really wonder why the so called experts amongst the institutions are not reading this superficial change that actually disadvantages all.

I maintain that the biggest gain of the Knight Review is the introduction of POST STUDY WORK for graduating degree students who will be able to work and gain experience for a period of time irrespective of the specialization of the degrees and irrespective of whether the degrees are in areas on SOL.

The GTE details however still gives me some fright… If applied a little irresponsibly, it can really ruin a good student’s prospects. I say so since it will be foolish to expect that there will be just no errors on part of visa officers especially because we know that across the world visa officers have committed errors and generalizations.

In the “real world”, a student who tells the interviewer that they intend to work for a few years in Australia post their studies may actually fail the GTE. Even though, PSW can be marketed by Universities now… I am sure that a student will feel drawn into saying that they will return to their home country after their degrees even when they have been attracted by the PSW and even when the Universities will market the PSW options. Will DIAC grant a visa to a student who says that he will do the Masters and then take up “guaranteed” PSW and then explores the state sponsorship that several states are promoting or other PR options even though they have the option of returning to India and work in India? (Yes, ACT Chief Minister’s office recently told me that they will happily sponsor a student who has worked in ACT for six months after having studied in ACT)

I also feel that the “genuine-ness” is too much a subject of “interpretation”. My real hope will be that the DIAC will release a guideline on what it deems as a “positive profile applicant”. Immigration NZ has such a document that it shares with education agents. Students who belong to positive profile are fast-tracked or streamlined and those who are not are still processed but a little closely. Once again NZ may give out some tips… to Aussies. After all, they won the Rugby World Cup.

26 Comments

  1. Ravi, My English is bad but I scored 6.5 in Ielts. Anyway, I wonder why don’t everyone buy a Mercedes or a BMW. Why people go for Maruti and Indica. Are they not genuine drivers???

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  2. agents & Students & edu Providers all are very much at loss.b’coz by removing PVA system , will mean more trouble for students & Edu; Providers to pay back/get back the the Fees to students ,if visa is rejected. Time Consuming Process ,PVA System is better .,

    Visa Rate as it is around 50%

    Inder Panjwani

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  3. Also, if you look too much for Genuine-ness it will turn out to be Genuine-Mess. All the best to you Ravi.

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  4. Does that mean students will be called for “genuine entrant interviews” more often? I think DIAC always had this “power” to refuse on the basis of “non-genuine student” anyway? A non-genuine student is also a non-genuine entrant, so why have additional criteria?
    Why refuse visa applications of students who are studying in “cheaper courses”? Why don’t they shut down institutes offering “cheaper courses” if quality is a concern? Because institutes will sue their @$$ big time and students won’t say much except for resorting to other “ways” to prolong stay.
    In Australia, its quite common to change your careers mid-life. A student who has done Bach in IT go for MBA (few of my friends have done with successful careers). Would that be considered non-genuine?

    Ravi, you have rightly pointed at “incentive to return” vs “incentive to stay” and that should not be used to refuse an application.

    Agree with Venu’s point: a person driving a Maruti is not a bad driver.

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  5. Ravi, I think the universities will take the responsibility of keeping the students motives genuine, till they finish the course. Because, I have seen genuine students from Engineering and life science background jumping to hairdressing and cookery after 6 months.
    So,lets do our good job and leave the rest to the Government.

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  6. In my view, what DIAC should have been done that they can put a system in place where before lodging the visa they can ask the prospective student to complete a questionnaire, where they can put various kind of questions which fits under GTE criterion and based on the answer and evidence from the applicant they can provide suggestion or indication (not decision) if the chances to get the visa is high or low. And then let the student decide if he or she wants to put the application or not……..and even if the student get a negative feed back from the DIAC they will apply for the visa (as after completed a major portion of exercise: from getting the offer to take the English test etc. he will not step back) with more preparedness of mind-set. it is something like skill assessment for migration…. but yes for migration if the applicant gets a negative report then he or she can not proceed further with the application.

    And yes Ravi Ji it will be a difficult situation for the student to talk assertively when ask for the intention to prove the “temporary entry” under student visa program keeping the PSW in mind.

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  7. So GTE is to be introduced from Nov 05, 2011. My concern is- I applied for Master course on Oct 05, 2011 using Global Reach as a agent and want to know whether I would be eligible for PSW as I have not heard anything back from High Commission about my status. Or they will assess my application under old existed legislations and I doubt if so, I would be ineligible for PSW though I would complete my course on August 2013.

    I am looking for the response to my query.

    Thanks.

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    1. DIAC has released a FAQ on the Post Study Work now. Do look it up… You may wish to withdraw your earlier application and then reapply. There is an indication that all those who “obtain” the visa post the 5th Nov may be eligible provided their applications have been assessed with the GTE criterion… Look up the link and do note that we are all still studying it. http://www.immi.gov.au/students/_pdf/2011-university-sector-post-study-work-visa.pdf

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    2. DIAC has released a FAQ on the Post Study Work now. Do look it up… You may wish to withdraw your earlier application and then reapply. There is an indication that all those who “obtain” the visa post the 5th Nov may be eligible provided their applications have been assessed with the GTE criterion… Look up the link and do note that we are all still studying it. http://www.immi.gov.au/students/_pdf/2011-university-sector-post-study-work-visa.pdf

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      1. Thank you for your response. But I doubt they might take me not as a GTE..thus I think I should continue with my previous application. My bad luck !!! Hope they will consider me later .

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      2. Thank you for your response. But I doubt they might take me not as a GTE if i withdraw my application..thus I think I should continue with my previous application. My bad luck !!! Hope they will consider me later .

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  8. His Holyness Dalailama was on MAsterchef Australia. He said food is devine, who ever provides it is more devine, do not judge it, accept it.

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    1. Hi Venu, It is indeed the buddhist way of thinking on life. This FridayI had the privilege of hering His Holiness talk to boys at The Doon School on “anger management”, “non violance” and the need for “mid-path”… I agree with your thoughts hence in all aspects…

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  9. Dear Ravi,
    I tend to read your blogs with passion and my predictions always sink with your prediction, analysis and thinking frequency.
    I did not bother to read Knight’s review and I always felt that all the reviews which has been initiated by the Australian government are clueless with full of pre conceived notion and prejudice. What does Knight knows about Australian Education? He may have some clue about winning a Olympic games bid! I wonder who from Australian government, bureaucrat or politician can given an answers to these pressing issues which plagued the industry for more than 2 years.
    I don’t see transparencies in visa processing and indeed it gives too much power to Visa officers. Interviewing the students must be recorded if they are really serious about GET so that a genuine appeal can take place in the event of visa rejection. The winner in this process in DIAC (Australian government) who makes money out of every application has been lodged. It is high time that government should think about introducing Visa Tax similar to Pokies, Carbon and Mining etc.. I am positive Indians are not stupid and silly to buy into this obnoxious game!
    Knight review is hell a load of rubbish (I am sorry Mr. Knight). I have read all those 200 submission and everyone has questioned about visa processing fee is too high and you did even take notice of this at any point.
    Education industry is slowly rotting and will die very soon. Wait till post Christmas and see how many private colleges and international centres at leading universities are going to be there. Fellows wake up and those who are in the recruiting business, it is time to say good riddens Australia and kiss goodbye to Australian and wonderful Prime Minister.
    Guess who is taking about GET… Visa officers are the worst bunch of jokers and biggest root cause for the mess. Inconsistency in assessing the applications and varies of officer to officer. Recently more onshore visa applications have been rejected. Looks like they have woken up from wilderness.
    Clueless country with clueless people. Good save the Queens and I wonder who is going to save the peoples livelihoods who are relying on this industry.
    With passion.

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  10. In late 90’s or early 2000 Australia mover from Gazetted/non Gazetted country assessmenets to Assessment levels. It looks like Mr Knight is not aware of AL levels and came out with recommendation. I still can’t believe how Knight’s recommendation is going to fit the existing ALs. It see bit of contradiction and conflicts in AL and Knight recommendation.
    Why don’t Mr. Kinght say it is time to review of abolish Assessment Levels and look at different model. What I canno digest is the English requirements for AL 1 and 2 compared to AL 3 and 4. Why dont DIAC make English requirement mandatory for all AL. Students coming from English speaking countries or follow English or British education system to show English proficiency compared to student coming from none English speaking or learning environments such as Thailand, Korea, Japan etc..

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    1. Post Knight review recommendations, a full review of the AL has also started and it is very much possible that the AL system that we know currently may be replaced by another in a year’s time. It is likely that the new mechanism will focus on risks associated to education providers too based on their compliance rate…

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  11. PSW is the way to attract students from India now, this is the only way OZ education will make a comeback. Yes the logic is students from India will want to study in Australia as its giving 2 year PSW and this is a great attraction.

    The institutes should be held responsible for student compliance.

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  12. Have we not witnessed LIVE what happened when DIAC officials had the power to do what they wanted and hahve we forgotten the way they acted , behaved and talked to us all when they were armed with these powers .
    It was a rotten period then and I can bet it will turn out to be another rotten period again. They post people who are culturally inappropriate and they behave like Mogul Emprerors and Empresses when this power is in thier hands.
    God Bless thr Indian students ….At least most of not all agents now promote other Countries but what about the students who have Australia as thier first choice .
    DO NOT FORGET THOSE DICTATORS WHO WERE HERE EARLIER .

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    1. Henry, I welcome you to my blog… Your comments come out of your passion for the industry which I have witnessed from close quarters. However some may read it as too militant. There are positives in the changes that are happening. It is possibly not as much as it has been projected. However, the changes have done one big effect: transformed the pessimism to optimism which was much needed. I maintain that the two big attractions will be: 1)reduction of financials by 6 months for AL3 and 2)introduction of Post Study Work that is not linked to SOL.

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