Knight Review leads to new set of changes

Date: Mar 28, 2012

Migration lawyers need to be aware of another set of changes to the Student Visa Program that have been implemented in light of the Knight Review, which offered its recommendations in June 2011.

Michael Knight was appointed by the government to carry out the first strategic review of the program in order to improve its quality, competitiveness and integrity.

His submissions were then assessed and are now being brought into force in stages, with the latest one taking place on March 24 and 26.

As of March 24, candidates for student visas who file their applications with a Confirmation of Enrolment from a participating university in Australia will be assessed with a lower migration risk.

This is the case for anyone studying at bachelor, masters or doctoral level, regardless of what their country of origin might be.

The application process should therefore become more streamlined for these people due to reduced evidentiary requirements.

Another change that came into force on March 26 was an increase to the maximum period of English language study for those possessing a Schools Sector subclass 571 visa.

The duration was increased from 40 to 50 weeks and is applicable to those working at Assessment Level 3 and above.

Those applying for the Assessment Level 4 Schools Sector subclass 571 visa will no longer have to provide evidence of an English language proficiency test when they lodge their application.

In addition, Student Guardian subclass 580 visa holders can engage in limitless part-time study on the English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students while living in Australia.

Lawyers in immigration will also need to be aware of a change implemented on March 26, which enables students to make the most of more flexible working conditions.

Previously, such visa holders were able to work 20 hours a week while their course was in session.

This has been increased to 40 hours per fortnight, which the Department of Immigration and Citizenship believes will give greater flexibility not only to holders of the student visa, but also their employers.

In these circumstances, a fortnight begins on any Monday and ends on the second subsequent Sunday.

While a course is in session, there is no limit in how many hours of work they can complete.

Meanwhile, Higher Degree by Research student visa holders are no longer restricted to the number of hours they can engage in work once their course is underway.