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By Mary Elaine Ramos | February 16, 2012 2:56 PM PST

The Australian Government through the Department of Immigration and Citizenship released new information about the changes that they are implementing for visa application. New updates are available for people who are interested in obtaining a student visa in order to study in Australia. Aside from student visa application, there are also changes in the policy for sponsored training.

Here is the complete list of updates:

Reduction of certain Student visa assessment levels from 24 March 2012

Student visa assessment levels for 29 countries, for certain Student visa subclasses, will be reduced from 24 March 2012. Student visa applications for these countries and visa subclasses lodged on or after 24 March 2012 will be subject to these new assessment levels.

These changes will lower the minimum evidentiary requirements needed for the grant of a Student visa for the selected countries and education sectors.

See: Reduction of Certain Student Visa Assessment Levels

Review of the Student visa assessment level framework: discussion paper - 31 January 2012

This discussion paper seeks stakeholder submissions on the issues raised in the Review of the Student Visa Assessment Level Framework Terms of Reference.  Submissions close 16 March 2012.

See: Review of the Student Visa Assessment Level Framework

SkillSelect - 27 January 2012

SkillSelect is an online system that enables skilled workers interested in migrating to Australia to record their details to be considered for a skilled visa through an Expression of Interest (EOI).  People intending to migrate to Australia may be found and nominated for skilled visas by Australian employers or state and territory governments, or they may be invited by the Australian Government to lodge a visa application.

SkillSelect will be implemented on 1 July 2012.

See: SkillSelect

Key issues impacting on Student visas

Key changes that will impact on the Student Visa Program in the next 12 months.

See: Key Issues Impacting on Student Visas

Commencement of stage one implementation of the Knight Review changes to the student visa program

Stage one of the government's response to the Knight Review of the student visa program commenced on 5 November 2011

See: Government Response to the Knight Review of the Student Visa Program

Introduction of Fraud Public Interest Criterion from 5 November 2011

From 5 November 2011, Fraud Public Interest Criterion (PIC) will apply to all visa subclasses in the Student Visa Program.

See: Fraud Public Interest Criterion

New English Language Tests for Student Visas from 5 November 2011

From 5 November 2011, the department will accept English language test results from the following alternative tests to the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) for Student visa purposes taken in any country:

Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based test (TOEFL iBT)

Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test (also known as Certificate in Advanced English).

See: Frequently Asked Questions - Alternative English Language Tests for Student Visas (60KB PDF file)

New research on Studying in Australia: Views from six key countries

Australian Education International recently published the results of a survey they conducted in six of Australia's largest source countries for international students which examines perceptions of studying in Australia.

The survey results concluded that the three most important factors in deciding where to study were the quality of education, the cost of tuition and the cost of living. It also concluded that about 90 per cent of prospective students thought that Australia's visa system was not difficult or complex. Students ranked Australia as taking the shortest time to process student visas, and ranked the United Kingdom and the United States of America as taking the longest.

See: Studying in Australia: Views from Six Key Countries (PDF file)

Release of the Knight Report and the government's response - 22 September 2011

The Government's response to the Hon Michael Knight AO's report, Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program 2011, was released on 22 September 2011. The Government supports in principle all of Mr Knight's 41 recommendations.

See: Government Response to the Knight Review of the Student Visa Program

Recent key initiatives in the student visa program

This document provides an overview of key initiatives in the student visa program.

See: Recent Key Initiatives in the Student Visa Program ( 68KB PDF file)

Change relating to temporary work sponsorship from 2 April

From 2 April 2011 foreign government agencies will be able to be approved as sponsors for the Occupational Trainee (Subclass 442) visa.

See: How this Visa Works

Student visa assessments for diploma and advanced diploma courses

From 1 January 2011, if you are applying for a Student visa to study a diploma or advanced diploma course that is recognised as a higher education diploma or a higher education advanced diploma, your Student visa application can be assessed as subclass 573.

See: Student Visa Assessments - Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas Studied at a Higher Education Institution ( 60KB PDF file)

Transitional arrangements for international students - 23 July 2010

Changes to the Skilled Occupation List include generous transitional arrangements which have been extended to current and former student visa holders.

See: Transitional Arrangements for International Students

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