More Filipino international students expected

With reduction of certain student visa assessment levels recently announced by the Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Citizenship, more students from the Philippines to study in Australia can be expected.

The Philippines is one of the countries assigned an AL1 or Student Visa Assessment Level 1 which means lower “minimum evidentiary requirements needed for the grant of a Student Visa.” This also means that applications for student visas from countries assessed with AL1 can be lodged online.

These reductions in assessment levels will take effect as from next month, March 24, the DIMA announced.

Twenty-nine countries received reductions in student visa assessment levels. Changes in student visa assessment levels were last made in September 2008 which included provisions of student visa applications from the Philippines being allowed to be made online.

Assessment Levels allow the immigration department “to deliver fast and efficient service… while maintaining the integrity of Australia’s immigration program.”

The immigration department assesses international students application using five assessment levels.

Assessment Level 1 represents the lower immigration risk and Assessment Level 5 the highest. The higher the Assessment Level, the greater the evidence an applicant is required to demonstrate to support their claims for the grant of a student visa.

“Each country, across each education sector, is assigned an Assessment Level which is based on the calculated immigration risk posed by students from that country studying in that education sector,” according to the DIMA.

“To determine the Assessment Level of a particular country and education sector, the department examines that group’s compliance with their visa conditions and other indicators of their immigration risk in the previous year.

“Where these statistical indicators show that a group has a higher level of immigration risk over a sustained period, the department responds to this trend by raising the Assessment Level of that group. In effect, this requires applicants to submit a higher level of evidence to support their claims that they wish to study in Australia.

“Where a group’s indicators demonstrate that they tend to abide by their visa conditions, these lower immigration risk groups have their Assessment Level lowered. This streamlines the visa process by reducing the level of evidence that these applicants need to submit to support their claims for a student visa.”

International students population

Australia’s international students population peaked at an all-time high in March quarter three years ago with a net overseas migration of 93,500 persons, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Recent preliminary data on net overseas migration however showed a sharp decline due in part to the large number of temporary visa holders including students who have arrived in earlier years and now starting to depart Australia in large numbers, the ABS report also stated.

The ABS report also added, “… supporting information from DIAC shows the number of student visa grants is dropping. Student visa grants from DIAC are down from a peak of 319,600 in 2008-09 to 270,500 in 2009-10.”

The increase in departure of students may also be due to the recent review of rules for eligibility to obtain onshore permanent residence visas or other visa, the ABS continued.

Consulate registration and survey

In a related story, the Philipine consulate General in Sydney continues to campaign for Filipinos in New South Wales to participate in the consulate’s ongoing survey to build up its database.

Survey data will be used in developing the Consulate’s Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Program.

The survey is available online and will finish by June of this year.

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