Misinterpreting & Misreporting on Immigration changes by media does more harm. Recent Australian and Kiwi Immigration changes are good case-studies where the reporting requires #FactCheck .

Over the last many years, I have felt that there is a need to have journalists and reporters with precise expertise in immigration and visa matters. Recycled news reports in a hurry to meet the deadline do grave harm, almost always. And this doesn’t apply only to Indian media.

I have recently noticed incorrect reporting in several international newspapers too. Even The Australian ran with a headline that gave adverse and hyped impression.

There has been a feeling that US has lost out as a destination choice post Trump and this is far from the truth. Research and Highly motivated students will continue to seek out US Universities which are often the best in the world. It is the next group of the students who have often considered education as a pathway to work or employment who may now “consider” other destinations too without ruling out US as such. The overall student numbers for US may fall for 2017 but that may not be a bad thing at all. Far too many low-quality institutions from US had started recruiting students from South Asia and many of these students too were of a “different breed”. The growth in numbers has been a bit too steep in recent years.

  • However, if you had to believe the media reports, it looked as if all students will not consider US as a destination. Undergraduate students who are studying IB degrees from South Asia have almost little option but to consider North American institutions and are already well down the track to look elsewhere.
  • It is true that Canada and Australia have seen increased interest. Once again both these countries have had “Post Study Work” and “future Migration” as the attraction. UK continues to run around “student Immigration” for political reasons and thus failed to gain. NZ “Universities” numbers have increased though overall student numbers have fallen simply as a result of “tightening” of the student visa regulations in light of the detected fraud.

Returning to the topic of the blog, in recent week, Australia “replaced” the “work permit visa – 457” with an improved “work permit visa around short, medium and long term skill shortages”. Honestly it had little to do with tightening of the student “market”.

  • “Post Study Work” unchanged: International students have been attracted to Australia for several reasons including the 2-4 years of Post Study Work (sub class 485) following a degree program and this visa has just not been touched in the recent changes.
  • “Student Visas simplified and eased”: Student Visas were made easier as the DIBP changed its list of approved banks for showing the funds and several banks got included. In Nepal, the list of acceptable banks increased from 2 to 28.
  • “Skills being studied by International students largely untouched”: The list of occupations for “work permit” was trimmed by about 200 occupations being removed from the earlier 600 odd accepted occupations. However, what is noteworthy is that almost all popular and sought after occupations of International students such as Accounting, IT, Engineering, Nursing etc continue to be in the new list too. And I may just point out that for the 485 (2-4 year PSW) visa that students opt for after a degree; the occupation listing doesn’t matter. What matters is that the student has undertaken the degree of a certain duration.

In a blog earlier this week, I put out a significant differentiation: Australia has not “abolished” work permits. It had only phased out the current version and replaced it with a new version. And, the genuine “degree” students were unaffected even now for their “post study work” aspirations.

In that blog, I cited two articles (one International and the other from India) which required rebutting with facts. If you have not read that blog yet, you may consider doing it now before reading further.

Link to the above referred detailed blog.

I am pleased to find two balanced and non-sensational reporting in India that drew upon parts of my thoughts.

Times of India article of Thursday, 20th April 2017:

TOI - Article.jpg

And The Hindu article by eminent education journalist, Mr Ravikanth Reddy, of this day that can be found on this link:

“Fear over abolition of ‘Subclass 457 visa’ is unfounded”

The Australian dream will not come crashing down for prospective international students — a majority of them are from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana — with the abolition of ‘Subclass 457 visa’, as it is related to employees rather than the students.

As worried parents reach out to education consultants and immigration experts to understand the dynamics of the 457 visa abolition, experts say international students who wish to look for jobs after their education fall under the 485 post-study work visa, which remains unaffected. The Indian students, particularly those from the two Telugu States, pursuing IT, Engineering and Accounting related courses aren’t affected at all with the changes.

“The current 457 sub-class visa is only being replaced by a Temporary Skilled Visa (TSS). So, we can certainly summarise that it will not impact genuine import of workers provided the occupation category is either in short, medium and long-term skill shortage list,” says Ravilochan Singh, Sydney-based consultant.

The two visas replacing the subclass 457 visa will be granted for four years for occupations falling under Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), previously known as Skilled Occupation List (SOL), and for two years for occupations falling under Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL), henceforth known as Shorter-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL). This new category will come into effect starting March 2018.

Criticising the media for creating an impression that Australia has got ‘Trumped’ and the “international students” will be affected, Mr. Singh says of the 216 jobs being slashed from the eligible occupations list, 18 of those being cut haven’t been used once in the last decade. Those jobs include turf growers, deer farmers and detectives. The “more popular” such as accountants, engineers and IT workers have not been removed at all.

Nisidhar Borra, another Australia-based consultant with branches in India argues that students visa regulations remain the same. International students move to work after studies through a visa called sub-class 485 and those gaining experience and with right background will be able to move on to Permanent Residency (PR) easily.

Unlike the USA where working on H1B is must for foreigners before they hope to get a Green Card, international students in Australia never go through the subclass 457 visa as they can apply for PR straight from their subclass 485 visa that allows them to work after their studies.

However, low-skilled foreigners who are used by the companies to abuse 457 visa will get affected. Most of these come from North India with the sole intention of migration and companies exploit them paying low salaries and creating ‘fake’ pay slips. This practice will be checked now comparing the tax returns of the companies and the employees.

However, I still find an article in THE QUINT that continues to run with factual errors and indicates that 457 is the visa that students use to gain work experience and Post Study Work. I wish they had done a Fact Check.

  • Why would “Shreya Basu” a student at University of Melbourne quoted in the article be clueless since the visa that will enable her post study work is sub-class 485 and not 457. If it is that her degree is less than 2 years, even the 457 wouldn’t have been of help. Possibly it is not so and there is misinterpretation on part of the student and misreporting on part of the online media.

Newspaper reporting on the NZ Immigration Changes were no better. Most gave an impression that Kiwis were following Trump and OZ with the tightening and the students will be immediately impact.

My understanding remains that International students choosing to study in NZ, get a one year visa to look for job and following that visa, they can get on to a work permit for a few years.

  • There is absolutely no change to this, going by reports.

Following the work permit, the students applying for further residency, now need to have jobs that give them a certain minimum salary in the year. This might sound like significant but I then consulted a friend of mine, Mr Arun Jacob, who is fairly skilled and well regarded “licensed” immigration advisor based in NZ. He had done a video and I asked him to tailor make it to my blog’s requirement. I whole-heartedly thank him for the same.

Take a look at what he says and how it doesn’t affect any genuine students. If after several years of being in NZ, (studies + job search + work permit), if they can’t get a job that pays them this acceptable threshold, they rather not be in NZ.

In conclusion, I make a case for some migration experts taking up journalism so that there is accountability in reporting on immigration matters.


1 Comment

  1. Good stuff Ravi. I agree with you media should understand these things before printing or announcing in public. If they do not have expertise then they should know at least the resources from where they can get the correct information. I mean it is expected from a journalist that he/she should be knowing that there are diplomatic/commercial missions on Australia and New Zealand in India, which can be approached for an accurate and authentic information on any policy change or new policy.


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