Saturday the 18th October 2014
Volume 345

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Today we cover the DIBP's 457 reforms and we bring to you a story showing how important it is to understand your student visa conditions.

Abkool waits for his next visa back home

Being unaware of Student Visa Conditions can lead to distressing circumstances

By: Jacinta Spies


Abdulhakeem Muse-Ariyoh, or better known as Abkool to those in UTS housing, is a 22-year-old Nigerian International student who arrived in Australian initially on a six month student visa to study a Graduate Certificate in Engineering management.


Abkool comes from a well-travelled family. Both of his siblings are currently studying in the UK while his parents frequently travel to different countries for their own jobs. He travelled to Ghana for his tertiary studies where he completed a Bachelor in Electrical Electronics Engineering.


He decided to study in Australia because he was told Australia has a very good educational standard and the people are nice.


His student experience was great enough for him to want to stay on and study a longer course. He says "Everyone is friendly, the rooms are there for you to study and have fun. UTS Housing is the best place to be."  


Consequently, six months in Australia went by in a blur; he competed in soccer tournaments for UTS housing, attended university parties and managed the heavy study load of an engineering student. Soccer has always been his favourite sport. He has brought this love with him from the streets of his home in Nigeria, to the fields in Ghana and now to the sports halls of UTS.  


Abkool decided to enrol for a double degree and consequently had to extend his visa. However, unknown to him he due to a no-further stay condition (8503) on his initial visa and he could not extend his stay in Australia.


When he tried to extend his visa, he was told he had an invalid application. He was at a loss and says "I didn't understand, why I would have an invalid application?"


He spoke with immigration and was told he hadn't certified his documents. He had to wait a week for his parent to return to Nigeria from their work in Dubai so they could send his original documents to Australia. Once this was corrected, he re-applied for his extension but to his surprise was once again told he had an invalid application.


Abkool was told he had to travel overseas in order to extend his Australian visa and says

"It was a very quick decision. I had to leave."


During his stay at UTS, Abkool had formed plans for his future in Australia. He had applied for credit recognition from his first graduate course so that his double degree in the master's course would not take as long. Also he planned to apply for a part time job in November once the holiday season began and the university workload stopped.


Yet these goals have been temporarily abandoned as he had no choice but to return home and says "Yes I'm really disappointed. Very disappointed. I'm actually just putting a smile to hide my hard feelings. Seriously yes. It is really difficult. I don't have a choice."


Akbool has now deferred from his double degree masters course, made appointments with immigration and spoke with the UTS international department. Despite his misfortunes, he feels positive towards his success when he re-applies.


"Well it should be easy. I have my own papers and I am applying from my own country."


The only thing he regrets is his own ignorance towards the conditions of the visa. If he had understood his visa conditions he could have made more convenient arrangements.


"I would have applied for them to remove the condition, before going to apply. But I knew all this too late."


When Abkool was asked about his thoughts and experiences in Australia he eagerly replied:


"I like it here. Here is no problem. I really want to contribute to the greatness of this country sometime soon. I hope I can. Really nice here."


Currently Abkool is overseas waiting for the grant of his student visa and cannot know for sure if he will be allowed to return.  


Jacinta Spies is a second year student at UTS studying for a degree in Journalism and International Studies. She has previously been a news-reader and writer for the community radio station 2SER. Her interest lies in gaining knowledge about the world around her and various issues affecting students.

457 Reforms announced by the Australian Government

Immigration - Social Background. Green Arrow with  Immigration  Slogan on a Grey Background. 3D...

Post an independent review of the 457 programme, the Government has recently published a media release that specifies a few welcome changes for genuine sponsors as well as applicants. The Government has announced it intends to:

  • streamline the processing of sponsorship, nomination and visa applications to reward low risk applicants and refocus compliance and monitoring activities on high risk applicants;
  • increase the sponsorship approval period from 12 to 18 months for start-up businesses, to give start-ups more time to make their businesses sustainable;
  • provide greater flexibility in relation to English language testing and skill requirements for 457 applicants, to ensure that the standards required are appropriate for the industries and occupations being sought; and
  • retain the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold at $53 900, ahead of a review within the next two years.

Precautions will remain in place to ensure that the 457 visa programme is not rorted. It will continue to be a requirement that a foreign worker receives at least the same market rates and conditions that are paid to an Australian doing the same job in the same workplace.

The Government has also expressed their intention to expand and improve the Significant Investor Visa programme.

At present, SIVs are available for applicants having an eligible investment in Australia of A$5 million, for a minimum of four years.

The Government will reform the programme to encourage more high net worth individuals to make Australia home and to leverage and better direct additional foreign investment, while maintaining safeguards to ensure the migration programme is not misused.

Changes will comprise of the following:

  • Streamlining and speeding up visa processing, further promoting the programme globally and strengthening integrity measures, to increase the attractiveness of investing and settling in Australia while ensuring Australia's interests are protected;
  • Aligning the criteria for eligible investments with the Government's national investment priorities. The investment eligibility criteria will be determined by Austrade in consultation with key economic and industry portfolios;
  • Introducing a Premium Investor Visa (PIV), offering a more expeditious, 12 month pathway to permanent residency than the SIV, for those meeting a $15 million threshold; and
  • Tasking Austrade to become a nominating entity for the SIV (complementing the current State and Territory governments' role as nominators) and to be the sole nominating entity for the PIV.

The changes to the SIV will take effect during 2014-15, with the Premium Investor Visa to be introduced from 1 July 2015.

The Government will soon make further announcements on the recommendations of reviews into both the 457 and SIV programmes.

You can read the media release of the Immigration Website here.


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