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Friday, July 19, 2024

Australia Doubles Visa Fees for International Students

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Australia has more than doubled its visa fee for international students as part of the government’s efforts to manage record migration levels, which have exacerbated an already tight housing market.

Starting July 1, the international student visa fee has increased to A$1,600 ($1,068) from A$710. Additionally, visitor visa holders and students with temporary graduate visas are now barred from applying onshore for a student visa.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil stated, “The changes coming into force today will help restore integrity to our international education system, and create a migration system which is fairer, smaller, and better able to deliver for Australia.”

In the year leading up to September 30, 2023, official data showed a 60% rise in net immigration, reaching a record 548,800 people.

The new visa fee hike positions Australia as a more expensive destination for international students compared to the U.S. and Canada, where visa costs are around $185 and C$150 ($110) respectively.

The government also announced the closure of loopholes in visa rules that allowed foreign students to extend their stay in Australia. The number of students on a second or subsequent student visa increased by over 30% to more than 150,000 in 2022-23.

This latest measure follows a series of actions since late last year aimed at tightening student visa regulations. After COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in 2022, annual migration surged to unprecedented levels.

In March, English language requirements were tightened, and in May, the minimum savings required for international students to obtain a visa was raised to A$29,710 ($19,823) from A$24,505, marking the second increase in seven months.

Universities Australia CEO Luke Sheehy warned that the ongoing policy pressure could jeopardize the sector’s strong position, stating, “This is not good for our economy or our universities, both of which rely heavily on international student fees.”

International education is one of Australia’s largest export industries, contributing A$36.4 billion to the economy in the 2022-2023 financial year.

($1 = 1.4988 Australian dollars)
($1 = 1.3664 Canadian dollars)

(Source: Reuters)

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