The Australian government has announced a slew of changes in its visa policy that is expected to benefit over 200,000 foreigners. Reform in the Permanent Residency (PR) eligibility and eased norms for international students to work post studies are among the many changes introduced.
The new visa policy will support 30,000 students whose visas have expired after February 1, 2020. These students can now reapply for a fresh 485 visa of the same time period as allowed by their previous visa.
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The change in the policy will also allow around 170,000 master’s graduates to stay in the country and work for three years instead of the previously allowed two years. Similarly, graduates of vocational programs will now be eligible for a two-year temporary visa.
The new changes come as a part of the Australian government’s strategy to boost international education and address the current shortage of workers.
Around 20,000 skilled migrants, who stayed in Australia during the COVID-19 outbreak, have been declared eligible for PR by the government.
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International students in Australia make up a significant part of the country’s manpower in the retail and hospitality sectors. The Australian government has been under pressure from local businesses to help them return to the country.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke was quoted in popular publications saying, “The changes are targeted to not only support international students but are also a crucial component of our economic recovery and will help us retain and attract skilled workers.”
The changes for students were introduced along with a relief package worth $37 million for private colleges in the country. These institutes, which would usually see an influx of international students every year, have been severely affected by the pause in international enrolments over the last couple of years.
Measures will also include an exemption of a 25% fee for students accessing government support for student loans.
Phil Honeywood, chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia, welcomed the new visa relaxations saying that these were necessary to retain and attract international students.
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It was also recently reported that fully vaccinated international students can return to NSW, Victoria and the ACT from December 1.
As per the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the country’s hospitality industry has seen an 87% increase in the number of job vacancies over the last couple of years. The healthcare industry is also witnessing an increase in openings by 72%.