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Australia Implements Stricter Visa Rules for Foreign Students Amid Record High Migration

Australia will begin enforcing tougher visa rules for foreign students this week, as official data showed migration hitting another record high, likely exacerbating an already tight rental market.

Starting Saturday, English language requirements for student and graduate visas will be increased, and the government will gain the power to suspend education providers from recruiting international students if they repeatedly break rules.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil stated in a release, “The actions this weekend will continue to drive migration levels down while delivering on our commitments in the migration strategy to fix the broken system we inherited.”

A new “genuine student test” will be introduced to further crack down on international students who primarily seek to work in Australia, while “no further stay” conditions will be imposed on more visitor visas.

These measures follow a series of actions last year to end COVID-era concessions introduced by the former government, including unrestricted working hours for international students. The government had announced that rules would be tightened for students, potentially halving its migrant intake over two years.

Australia raised its annual migration numbers in 2022 to help businesses recruit staff to fill shortages after strict border controls due to the COVID-19 pandemic kept foreign students and workers out for nearly two years.

However, the sudden influx of foreign workers and students has intensified pressure on an already tight rental market.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday revealed that net immigration rose by 60% to a record 548,800 in the year ending Sept. 30, 2023, surpassing the 518,000 people in the year ending June 2023.

Australia’s population increased by 2.5% – the fastest pace on record – to 26.8 million people in the year ending last September.

The record migration, driven by students from India, China, and the Philippines, has expanded the labor supply and restrained wage pressures but exacerbated an already tight housing market with record-low rental vacancies and elevated construction costs limiting new supply.

O’Neil noted that the government’s actions since September have led to a decline in migration levels, with recent international student visa grants down by 35% compared to the previous year.

Source: Reuters

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