Streamlined Australian visa applications for vocational students

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International students will soon find it easier to study at Australian educational institutions on Technical and Further Education (TAFE) courses under new streamlined visa arrangements. TAFE courses are typically vocational courses in industries such as business, finance, tourism, construction and engineering.

New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell announced this week that the streamlined visa arrangements, currently only available to students studying at universities, would be extended to high-quality vocational education and training providers including TAFE courses.

"The reforms will reduce the documentary evidence needed by international students, irrespective of their country of origin, intending to study in NSW," O'Farrell said."It will put us back in the game as we compete with other education markets around the world."

According to state government figures, the number of international student enrolments at NSW vocational education and training schools decreased over 20 percent between 2009 and 2011.

During a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments, the federal government agreed that relaxing the Australia visa restrictions would help state and territorial economies. The Australian government has agreed to introduce the new visa requirements in time for enrolments later this year.

Streamlined visa processing for university students went into effect on 24 March 2012. Under this program, student visa applicants can streamline their visa application if they submit them with a Confirmation of Enrolment from a participating university in Australia at Bachelor, Masters, or Doctoral degree level. Their applications will be assessed as though they were a lower migration risk in Assessment Level 1, regardless of their country of origin; Australian immigration feels that nationals of certain Countries are more likely to break their immigration laws.

Australian assessment levels so that the student visa requirements take into account the perceived immigration risk posed by applicants from a particular country studying in a particular education sector. Assessment Level 1 represents the lowest immigration risk and Assessment Level 5 the highest. The higher the assessment level, the greater the evidence an applicant is required to demonstrate to support their application for the grant of a student visa.

Eligible students still have to meet the same requirements in regard to English-language proficiency and financial requirements. However, they will not have to submit as much documentary evidence that currently exists under the higher Assessment levels.

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