Australia Visas Prioritised by Provider Risk

Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil signed a directive on December 14, setting out how immigration officials will prioritise visa applications from international students wishing to study in Australia based on provider risk.

It follows the commitment in Australia’s new migration strategy to “apply greater and more targeted scrutiny” to student visa applications from high-risk institutions.

The directive says that “high levels of demand” have created a need to manage student applications “in an orderly fashion”.

Each CRICOS-registered education provider has been allocated an evidence level (1, 2, or 3) and immigration will use this ranking to prioritise applications, with level 1 providers benefitting from faster processing times.

In the migration strategy, the government wrote, “Higher risk providers will experience slower processing times as visa decision makers consider the integrity of a provider, as well as the individual student applicants.”

As promised, the directive has come into effect in December ahead of the upcoming academic year.

Across student visa types, the highest priority has been given to applications from outside of Australia for:

The schools sector, foreign affairs or defence sector, and postgraduate eesearch sector applicants.

Higher education, English language intensive course for overseas students (ELICOS), vocational education and training (VET), and non-award sector applicants studying at an education provider with an evidenc​e level 1.

Subsequent entrant applications lodged outside Australia that include an unmarried family member under 18 years.​

All Student Guardian visa applications (lodged in or outside Australia).

According to the DHA, evidence-level indicators include visa cancellations (due to fraud, “non-genuineness” and breaches of visa conditions, for example), visa refusals, and overstaying a visa.

Student visas are linked to the institution a new arrival initially enrols in.

The government also plans to introduce a new Genuine Student Test, with further details expected in early 2024.

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