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Oz govt screens Indian education migration agents

world Updated: May 17, 2010 12:45 IST

PTI
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As part of measures to cleanse the immigration system, Australia has re-registered agents providing e-visa service to Indian students, recognising only 22 companies out of the 121 who expressed interest from across the country.

The measure would serve to tighten the process of immigration after questions were raised over the credibility of several migration agents in India who were allegedly breaching the system and sending students on fake documents.

Australian government had earlier this year asked all student eVisa agents, including registered migration agents operating within Australia and education agents operating outside Australia, to re-register under the new agreement that clearly stated the role expected from them and also included a code of conduct for them.

The earlier access agreement was terminated and the government asked all education agents to submit fresh expressions of interests. While 121 service providers had expressed interest, only 22 were registered by the government after a process.

The focus on immigration was brought about by the increasing number of attacks on Indian students last year, and also after several private colleges closed down leaving students stranded.

The number of Indian students seeking admissions in Australian colleges already dropped this year following large scale media coverage of attacks on the community.

"For agents operating within India, Australian High Commission in New Delhi manages re-registrations. New Delhi has re-registered 22 agencies to lodge student eVisa applications," according to Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).

DIAC spokesperson said that as a part of the re-registration process, all agents were invited to attend information sessions organised by the department's New Delhi post regarding the new deed of agreement and re-registration.

At these sessions, agents were informed of the six critical criteria that Australian government would look for in eVisa agents, including suitable information verification procedures while assessing visa applications and support documents and a robust internal auditing procedures.

"Some 120 expressions of interest were received by our New Delhi post. All were assessed against a range of objective criteria, and a shortlist of successful agencies was developed," he added.

The new agreemnet refers to transparent procedures for the provision of audits and any sanctions that an agent may incur if they breach the terms of the agreement.