Australia’s new migration rules unlikely to impact Indian students, professionals | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Australia’s new migration rules unlikely to impact Indian students, professionals

Dec 11, 2023 07:30 PM IST

The reforms won’t change opportunities for Indian students to live, study and work in Australia temporarily after finishing their studies

New Delhi: Australia’s planned reforms under a new migration strategy will include greater scrutiny of English language proficiency and antecedents of applicants but the moves aren’t expected to adversely impact Indian students or professionals, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese. (AFP)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese. (AFP)

The reforms won’t change opportunities for Indian students to live, study and work in Australia temporarily after finishing their studies as these are protected under the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), the people said on condition of anonymity. The reforms are also expected to open a new pathway for semi-skilled workers that is likely to benefit Indian nationals, they said.

The Australian government on Monday released the migration strategy that sets out significant reforms to the existing system to meet the country’s future needs. The reforms will focus on targetted skilled migration and new streamlined pathways for top global talent, higher standards for international students, visa settings to tackle worker exploitation and protect wages, and support for Australian states to get fast access to skilled workers.

There will also be a new approach to migration planning to “help return migration back to pre-pandemic levels and to get the right skills in the right places”, the Australian government said.

The people said the planned reforms are aimed at achieving a sustainable number of migrants and there will be more rigorous scrutiny of applications. While there will be no caps on or targets for international student numbers, steps will be taken to ensure that the students don’t attempt to remain in Australia for a prolonged period of time by measures such as registering for a course that is totally unrelated to their original field of study.

The reforms also won’t lead to restrictions on the entry to Australia of spouses or dependents of migrants though they will need to meet certain requirements, the people said.

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Australian high commissioner Philip Green said: “Commitments agreed between India and Australia under the ECTA will be upheld under the new migration strategy. This means that Indian graduates will continue to be eligible to stay on a temporary graduate visa for two years for a bachelor’s degree, three years for the completion of a master’s degree and four years for completion of a PhD.”

Green added, “The government will continue to welcome high quality students seeking out educational opportunities in Australia. I see no reason why Indian student numbers shouldn’t continue to grow.”

The people cited above said the greater scrutiny of English language proficiency is not expected to affect Indian students, who already perform well on this count. They said the reforms will make it easier for certain categories of people to come and work in Australia, especially highly skilled workers in fields where the country currently has a shortage.

The number of highly skilled workers will be determined by the needs of the Australian economy and an assessment to be made by the Australian government, labour unions and employers, the people said.

The reforms will also open up opportunities for semi-skilled Indian workers in some targetted areas, such as drivers and heavy machinery operators, though this will require certain legislative changes in Australia, the people said. The number of semi-skilled workers required will not be massive and the changes will take some time to implement, meaning that these opportunities are expected to open up from 2024 onwards, they said.

The reforms are also expected to address problems created by some intermediaries or immigration agents, and ensure that foreign workers enjoy the same wages and protections under labour laws as Australian citizens, the people said.

As of August 2023, more than 120,000 Indian students were enrolled in Australia, making them the second largest group of foreign students in the country. Australia also has about 976,000 citizens of Indian-origin. After Britain, India is the source of the second largest migrant group in Australia.

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