March 21, 2024

Australia announces tough visa rules for Nigerian students, others

Australia announces tough visa rules for Nigerian students, others

By Biodun Busari

The Australian government has said it will introduce a stricter visa scheme for international students from Nigeria and other countries in the bid to cut migration.

According to the Australian Home Affairs Minister, Claire O’Neil, the new visa rules will allow the government to suspend universities from recruiting foreign students if they break the rules.

Reuters said Australia will start implementing tougher visa rules for foreign students this week as official data revealed migration hit another record high.

It was revealed that the new visa rule starting on Saturday, has English language requirements for student and graduate visas to be increased, and likely to further aggravate an already tight rental market.

“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,” O’Neil said.

It said a new “genuine student test” will be introduced to further crack down on international students working to relocate to Australia for work, while the imposition of “no further stay” conditions will be used on more visitor visas.

The moves follow a bunch of actions last year to close off COVID-era concessions introduced by the former government, including unrestricted working hours for international students. 

Australia at the time said rules would be tightened for students that could halve its migrant intake over two years.

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

But, the sudden influx of foreign workers and students has worsened pressure on an already tight rental market, the report said.

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

Overall, Australia’s population rose 2.5% – the fastest pace on record – to 26.8 million people in the year to last September.

The record migration – driven by students from India, China and Philippines – has expanded labour supply and restrained wage pressures, but it exacerbated an already tight housing market where rental vacancies hovered at record lows and elevated construction costs restricted new supply.

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