Helpless, angry, and distressed are the emotions of international students who have yet to receive their Australian student visas despite the country’s borders reopening to vaccinated visa holders in December.
Deepak Chahal, a PhD student from India at Macquarie University, told Study International that he applied for a student Subclass 500 visa on January 14, 2021, and has been waiting for it for 15 months. The New Delhi native claimed that after contacting the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), he and several other PhD students received a “generic” response stating that their application is undergoing mandatory checks that take time. “I am in a great deal of distress and anxiety because of my visa situation.” “And it’s not just me; there are about 20 PhD students in India (connected via a WhatsApp group) who have been waiting for their visa for one to two years,” the 27-year-old explained. Some have yet to enrol because their universities require a visa. “We struggled and fought hard to get PhD scholarships at these universities, but we are not receiving them right now because we are not enrolled,” he explained. “We’re all down because of our visa situation.” Most of us are on the verge of losing our PhD offers because universities can no longer postpone our PhD degrees. Because of our visa situation, we feel helpless, angry, distressed, and depressed. Hamed Pourazad applied for his visa before COVID-19 arrived in Australia.
The 34-year-old, who was awarded a scholarship to study for a PhD at the University of Newcastle, hoped to get his visa and travel to Australia before the borders closed but to no avail. The Iranian was unconvinced by the DHA’s assurance that visa applications would be processed as soon as possible. “The University of Newcastle has been extremely helpful throughout my visa application process.” “They deferred my scholarship several times and never mentioned cancellation,” he explained. However, he claimed that some of his friends had lost their scholarships or were on the verge of losing them. Others who had received grants for their proposals are concerned that their grants will be revoked, according to Pourazad. In response to Study International’s inquiry, a DHA spokesperson stated that the department has concentrated its efforts on processing student visa applications lodged offshore in order to support Semester 1 commencements in 2022, since borders reopened to fully vaccinated student visa applicants.
“Student visa processing has continued throughout the pandemic, with nearly 258,000 student visa applications finalised in the 2020-21 programme year, and more than 200,000 applications finalised between July 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022,” a spokesperson said. “The time it takes to process a student visa is dependent on a variety of factors, including the applicant’s personal circumstances,” the spokesperson added. A visa will not be issued until the department is satisfied that all requirements have been met.” As of April 17, 2022, there are over 100,000 student visa holders currently living overseas who can travel to Australia if fully vaccinated. “Between November 20, 2021 and April 15, 2022, the department granted over 77,800 student visas to applicants offshore; those onshore refreshing their student visas can continue their studies,” said the spokesperson.
When COVID-19 broke out, Australia was one of the first countries to close its borders to international students, but it was also one of the last major study abroad destinations to reopen them. The Australian government, on the other hand, has increased its efforts to entice international students to return to its shores. This includes temporarily removing working hour caps, instituting a visa refund scheme, and relaxing the eligibility requirements for a Temporary Graduate Visa, which allows international students to live, study, and work in Australia after their studies are completed. Students who are affected can find information on visa application processing times by clicking here.
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