The Australian government has disclosed a series of measures to counter fraud and exploitation in its immigration program, with specific emphasis on combating the abuse of student and protection visas. Domestic Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil characterized these abuses as “serious and systemic,” noticing that the system has been utilized to execute heinous crimes such as sexual slavery and human trafficking.
A new division focused on immigration compliance is being created in response. It will be supported by an additional A$50 million ($31.5 million) of funding, according to O’Neil. The announcement coincides with a broader review of the country’s immigration system slated for completion by the end of the year.
Since the Labour government took power in May 2022, it has resolved to overhaul Australia’s immigration program. This move follows a spike in post-pandemic migration that resulted in significant visa processing delays. Part of these reforms includes revamping the system of migration agents, who are often enlisted by potential migrants to navigate Australia’s complex immigration process.
In anticipation of a comprehensive migration review in 2023, the government has increased funding for visa processing as a means of mitigating the growing backlog. They have also committed to tightening regulations following a rapid review report outlining the exploitation of Australia’s visa system. “The party is over; the rots and loopholes that have plagued this system will be shut down,” stated O’Neil.
Proposed amendments to the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 involve enhancing both the fit and proper provider test and overall standards for registration. Furthermore, restrictions on cross-ownership between education providers and agents are being implemented.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
- Q: What measures have been reported to handle fraud and abuse in Australia’s immigration system?
A: The Australian government has announced the creation of a new division focusing on immigration compliance, an additional $31.5 million in funding for the immigration system, and a broad review to be delivered by the end of the year. They are also overhauling the migration agent system, strengthening regulations, and monitoring international student attendance.
- Q: What prompted these changes to the immigration system?
A: These measures have been put in place in response to serious and systemic abuses of student and protection visas, including sexual slavery and human trafficking. The Labour government has been seeking to retool Australia’s immigration program after a surge in post-pandemic migration led to lengthy visa processing delays.
- Q: How will these measures affect migration agents?
A: The government will overhaul Australia’s system of migration agents due to abuses by a minority of them. This includes measures to curb cross-ownership between education providers and agents, as well as banning private colleges from paying commissions to education agents to lure international students away from rival institutions.
- Q: How do these reforms plan to address concerns related to international students?
A: The reforms will strengthen the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000, elevate the standards required for registration, and curb cross-ownership between education providers and agents. International student attendance will also be closely monitored to ensure that student visas are not being used purely for work purposes.
- Q: When will the results of the wider migration review be released?
A: Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil has commissioned a wider migration review which is set to be released by the end of 2023.
The Australian government is taking significant steps to address the systemic issues of fraud and exploitation within its immigration program, particularly in regard to student and protection visas. The establishment of a new division focusing on immigration compliance, increased funding, and comprehensive reviews of the migration system demonstrate a commitment to tackle these issues head-on. The proposed amendments to the Education Administrations for Overseas Students Act 2000 aim to raise the bar for educational institutions and secure international students from corrupt practices. With this multi-faceted approach, the Australian government is sending a clear message that fraud and abuse will not be endured within its immigration program.