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Oz immigration officials cancel student visas of 55 Indians

world Updated: Aug 24, 2011 15:02 IST

PTI
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A total of 55 Indian students in Australia were sent back home by immigration authorities, who cancelled their visas over "breaches" like failure to maintain an enrolment.

These Indians were among over 150 overseas students whose visas were cancelled on returning to Australia in the last financial year, The Australian reported on Wednesday.

They were intercepted by immigration authorities at the airport over visa breaches and deported back to their home countries within 72 hours, 'The Australian' reported.

Apart from 55 Indian students - the largest group to have had their student visas cancelled at the airport, 37 Chinese students were among those deported.

Of the 470,221 people, who arrived on student visas to Australia, almost 9,000 were questioned by immigration officials, according to latest data released by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

In 2010-11, the most common breach leading to cancellation of a student visa at the airport was failure to maintain an enrolment or no longer attending classes. Of the 159 students whose visas were cancelled, 151 were sent home within 72 hours.

The data showed that around 84 students had vocational education visas or higher education visas which stood at 66.

Federation of Indian Students of Australia (FISA) spokesman Gautam Gupta was quoted as saying by the paper that the airport crackdowns were "perceived to be retribution because students protested" against attacks on Indian students in 2009.

Gupta said that a student stepping off a long flight, with no legal representation and sometimes poor English, could not get natural justice in a short interview.

Commenting on the issue, Monash University's Chris Nyland said students planning to go overseas should be able to get a document from their institution showing there were no problems of the kind that could get their visa cancelled.

"It would say you have permission to leave and you are in good standing at the university," he said.

According to migration agent Jonathan Granger, 159 cancellations were a small number and described the interceptions as part of "a cat and mouse game" between the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and offshore agents.

"A few years ago, when cookery and hairdressing (courses) were easy routes to permanent residency, Indian agents packaged these vocational courses with higher education, making it easier to secure a visa.

"However, there was never any intention to go on to the higher education course and some of these students were believed to be among those caught at airports", Grangere said.

However, a DIAC official was quoted as saying that "visa cancellations at the border are conducted under strict natural justice rules. Officers will weigh all relevant factors for and against the cancellation."