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Overseas Students May Face Tougher Visa Tests

Overseas Students May Face Tougher Visa Tests

MELBOURNE, Jan 20 -- Foreign students seeking to remain in Australia as permanent residents after they complete their studies may face strict new visa conditions as part of an Australian Government rethink of the skilled immigration programme.

A discussion paper being circulated by Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone flags the likely imposition of a higher English Language requirement for skilled immigrants to ensure that they do better in the Australian job market, "The Australian" newspaper reported.

It also points to the likely creation of a temporary visa category targeting overseas students studying in Australia to make sure they get skilled work experience locally before they become eligible to migrate.

The Immigration Department has appointed a panel of labour market experts from Monash, La Trobe and Flinders universities to assess the performance of skilled immigrants in the workforce.

The evaluation of the General Skilled Migration Programme will focus on areas where large numbers of recent graduates with permanent resident status have flooded job markets already in oversupply. The report will be handed to Senator Vanstone early next month for presentation to the cabinet.

Changes to the skilled immigration programme are expected to be introduced in May.

One of the report's authors, Monash University's Bob Birrell, told the newspaper that although the evaluation looked at the entire skilled immigration programme, it focused on onshore visas granted to students.

"There are problems, particularly with the overseas students group, because they are the most rapidly growing group," Dr Birrell was quoted as saying.

"The enrolment of overseas students has been mainly driven by the potential for permanent resident outcomes. So, we are looking at how they are doing in the Australian labour market, and I think it's fair to say that there are some problems."

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