‘Indian students seldom breach Australian visa rules’

August 29th, 2008 - 1:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Aug 29 (IANS) Indian overseas students are the second largest cohort of international students in Australia and they seldom breach immigration rules. Only 16 out of 63,500 Indian overseas students enrolled in Australian education institutions had in the past three years breached student visa rules and spent some time in a detention centre.

“The number speaks for itself. Indian students have a high visa compliance rate and they are a very important part of the Australia’s $12.5 billion (US $11 billion) education export industry,” a spokesman for the immigration and citizenship department told IANS.

As of June 30, 2008, there were 63,500 Indian overseas students enrolled in Australian educational institutions.

“As many as 47,639 student visas were granted to Indian nationals during 2007-08 and 5,772 went on to get permanent residence visas,” the spokesman said.

At any given time in Australia, there are 250,000 international students. In the past three years from April 1, 2005 to March 31, 2008, 87 student visa holders spent between two and 51 days in detention for matters relating to immigration breaches; 16 of them were Indian.

As of Aug 15, 2008, only five student visa holders were in detention at Villawood in Sydney and Maribyrnong in Melbourne.

On Thursday, The Australian newspaper reported that documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws revealed that in the three years to March 2008, overall 299 overseas students from 24 countries including India, were put in detention centres for various offences.

Of the detainees, 207 were held for overstaying their visas, 30 for attendance breaches, 14 for failing their courses, seven for not starting their courses, four for withdrawing from their courses, one for a work breach and 36 for other reasons.

Students’ visa breaches include working more than the prescribed 20 hours a week, attending less than 80 percent of scheduled contact hours, unsatisfactory academic results, completing a course early, deferring study or transferring to another provider.

Under the Labour government’s immigration reforms, Immigration Minister Chris Evans last month announced that detention in immigration detention centres will only be used as a last resort and for the shortest practicable time.

Under the new policy, there will be a risk-based approach to detention. The minister said mandatory detention for overstayers and unlawful non-citizens would only apply to people who pose a risk to the community or people who have repeatedly refused to comply with their visa conditions.

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