Streamlined Visa Processing
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The Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program 2011 (the Knight Review) included a number of recommendations to assist Australia in remaining an internationally competitive study destination for international students. One of the recommendations of the review was the simplification of the visa application process for students with a confirmed Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) from a participating university in Australia at Bachelor, Masters or Doctoral degree level, called streamlined visa processing arrangements.
The SVP arrangements allow students who lodge their applications with a CoE to be assessed as though they are a lower migration risk, regardless of their country of origin. This means that these applicants will generally have reduced evidential requirements when applying for a student visa.
SVP arrangements were extended to Australian universities from 2012 through an opt-in process, in recognition of their status as low-risk providers of higher education to international students.
In June 2014 the Government released a document detailing issues that universities may wish to consider in relation to SVP.
In late 2013, the Assessment Level report was released. The key announcements included a new framework for risk, the removal of Assessment Levels 4 and 5 and the extension of SVP arrangements to 22 non-university higher education providers. The non-uni guidelines differ from the university guidelines is several ways:
They require the provider to agree to data sharing between agencies (ASQA, Education, TPS) and Immigration (para 46) – existing university Guidelines have no such clause.
There are ongoing assessment criteria including compliance with legislation and regulatory frameworks (64), changes to CRICOS registration (68), sustainable expansion of international student numbers (72), and obligation to ensure students have a CoE before they apply for a visa (75), restrictions on advertising SVP arrangements (81), as well as the need to maintain and AL of 1 or 2 (82).
There are requirements for the provider to have had a history of compliance with CRICOS and ESOS (includes principle executive officer, associates and high managerial agents) (58).
They run till June 2016 (24) - which bodes well for our request to have a mid-year cycle date.
The requirements to have arrangements in place to minimise incentives for students to deliberately arrive under SVP then transfer out has been rephrased (58k).
The Assessment Level Framework is the new framework (40 per cent fraud refusals, 30 per cent cancellations, 10 per cent refusal other than fraud, 20 per cent unlawful non-citizens).
Universities Australia is concerned that the more onerous provisions in these Guidelines will be inserted into the new Guidelines for universities. Universities Australia is also working closely with the Department of Immigration to resolve the issue of student "course hopping" from SVP providers to other institutions.
Universities Australia was particularly pleased to see the changes to the Assessment Level framework and considers this a win for universities.