New Assessment Levels Announced for Student Visas

Dear Colleague

Student Visa Assessment Levels changed

New Assessment Levels have been announced for Student Visas.

These new levels will take effect from 1 September 2008.

There have been a significant number of changes;

  • 43 countries across 118 education sectors have been moved to a lower assessment level rating
  • 9 countries have moved to a higher assessment level.

Lower assessment levels have lower evidentiary requirements (eg financial requirements) and higher assessment levels of course have higher evidentiary requirements

For full announcement details, click these links:

Legislative instrument with new list

The Explanatory Statement

Had any experience with these changes yet? Tell us how they impacted your plans – just use the Comments box below…

Here are some links to additional information on Australian Student Visas, and the Assessment process: …

All About Applications for Australian Student Visas – On your student visa, you are eligible to apply for packaged programs. If you are a citizen of assessment level 1 & 2 countries, you are allowed to convert a business or tourist visa in to a student visa. But citizens from country …

Assessment Levels For Student Visas – Australia – You can find out your assessment level by looking up your nationality and visa subclass applied for in Form 1219i, Overseas Student Program – Assesment Levels or by visiting the DIAC website. Important: if you have an assessment level 2 …

Visa Guidelines – Regardless of visa subclass or assessment level, there are a number of general requirements that international students must meet in order to be eligible for a student visa. These include requirements relating to: …

how to get student Visa for Australia? – Once this information is received by the visa processing office, the preliminary assessment will be conducted. If the assessment is favourable, then the visa office will instruct the university to send the student an electronic …

Student Visa Australia – Evidentiary Requirements – Your level of English Language Proficiency in relation to that required for your assessment level and education sector of study; The situation in your home country eg personal or financial commitments that may prompt you to return to …

Australia Visa Information – Your application will be assessed according to your Assessment Level. Your Assessment Level is determined by the country of your nationality and the education sector for which you are seeking a student visa.

 


Immigrant Lifestyle In Australia

The smallest continent on planet Earth, surrounded by the Pacific and the Indian Oceans, is number one on the list of places people want to relocate to when thinking of a full relocation.

Why here?

Australians are fiercely proud of their country, the wealth and infrastructure, the culture and the stability. As people they are helpful, friendly and have a great sense of humor. In Australia you will find deserts, mountains and, of course, the sea.

Australia is considered a place where one can live quietly, enjoy the wide open spaces and do something with one’s life in this land of opportunities. People are always on the lookout for a better, happier and more exciting lifestyle and today Australia is one of the most preferred locations to migrate to. The Australians are a friendly lot and theirs is a very rich and diverse culture. More languages are spoken in Sydney than in any other place. Australian industry has seen a phenomenal growth in the last decade or so, which has encouraged people to want to live, work and play in Australia.

Their educational institutions compare well with their counterparts across the globe and finding a job is not too difficult if you are able to speak reasonably good English. A minimum wage has been set by the government in each state and payment is as per those rules. The economy is growing in leaps and bounds and skilled professionals are very welcome.

Immigrants in Australia will find they are able to live their life the way they like to but of course you have to keep in mind that the rules and regulations that govern the Australians, govern you too. There are lots of things to do on the weekends like going to the beach which is a favorite Australian activity. Sports are yet another well developed industry, and you will find that all Australians love some sport or other.

Immigrants must keep in mind that Australians are very particular about the environment and they spend a lot of time preserving, cleaning and maintaining their surroundings. Damage to the environment or nature is attended to immediately. Law and order is very essential so you have to ensure that you don’t break the law.

For permanent residency in Australia, one has to be issued with a permanent residency visa which is just short of being a citizen of Australia. Applying for a permanent residency visa requires that skilled people are working in a metropolitan area for at least 2 years and then this is subject to the rules and regulations governing visas.

Once this visa is issued then the persons are eligible for subsidized or free legal help, education, health services etc. there are a lot of privileges that are extended to these visa holders similar to those of a proper citizen.

So living in Australia is a dream come true, most will agree. Everyone is welcome and you can choose the lifestyle you want to live. Can you really ask for more…


Student Lifestyle In Australia

Student lifestyle the world over is quite different from the rest of society. You have your own group of friends, places you like to go and your own routines. This is especially true if you are living away from home.

Australia is fast becoming a very popular destination for education. The main reasons for this are

  • the highly competitive courses that can be undertaken
  • the fees as compared to American or European courses
  • living costs that are very affordable
  • and last but not least, the myriad attractions that make Australia so perfect for students.

The country boasts a superb climate. The people are friendly, live in a safe and healthy environment and students from all over the world are welcomed. In Sydney there are many languages spoken thanks to its cultural diversity, and with over a hundred ethnic groups living in Australia no student will really feel out of place.

Accommodation

There are lots of accommodation choices open to you. Besides living on campus there are other options like renting rooms, home-stay with/without meals, or shared rental accommodation. More often than not students live their own lives in shared apartments where you do your own cooking. This often is the most economical option too.

Recreation

There is a lot of scope for students to strike the right balance between study, relaxation and other activities. There is so much to do and see in Australia that you just might run out of time. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants to eat in, there is surfing open to all and there are lots of beaches, lakes and rivers for those who love the water. There are international festivals celebrated that are a must-see for students and others alike.

There are lots of sports facilities and art and culture are catered for too, with galleries, museums, live arts and music etc. There are markets aplenty and shopping is always a fun experience. Probably the best attractions in Australia are its bush land and the wildlife, the outback and the rainforests. Students who have an adventurous streak will enjoy all that Australia has to offer.

Work while you study

If you have a student visa you are allowed to work on a casual basis although it’s wise to remember that the job cannot be a means to fund your education as you need to devote enough time to your studies and exams. This easy earn-while-you-learn option makes Australia very attractive to students as a part time job can fund hobbies and interests leaving the money you and your family saved for course fees to pay the fees.

Student lifestyle in Australia offers the best of both worlds: you get to study in some of the best institutions in the world, you can work to gain experience, and you can learn about the Australian way of life first-hand. There are so many activities to choose from and the overall experience of living in Australia is one, you are not likely to forget in a hurry.


Increases to the Minimum Salary Level

 

source: Flickr author: Broken Piggy Bank

The Australian government announced increases to the minimum salary level (MSL) paid to temporary migrant workers from August 2008. The increase will be paid to all holders of a 457 visa including those already working in the country.

These increases are part of a reform package intended to strengthen the temporary skilled migration (457 visa) program.

Some of the Key Features of the Reforms:

  • increases the safety net for skilled migrant workers
  • protects them from unscrupulous employers who may wish to exploit them
  • if a prescribed salary level is higher than the MSL, then it must be paid
  • there will be an information campaign to ensure existing visa holders are aware of the changes
  • the 457 visa scheme is important to the Australian economy and the community is encouraged to support it
  • strong monitoring of the processes and penalties for employers failing to do the right thing

There are rights and responsibilities on both 457 visa holders and employers and it is important that everyone plays their part. The Department for Immigration and Citizenship plans a comprehensive information strategy to ensure everyone knows what they should be doing. So there will be no excuse for those who get it wrong.

The salary increases are only part of the reform package which aims to strengthen the Australian economy with the help of sponsor employers and skilled migrant workers.


Australian Immigration – General Skills Migration Program

source: Flickr author: jεƒ saƒı

If you possess the work skills Australia requires to fill vacancies in their labor force then the GSM Program is for you.

If you wish to live, work and play in Australia but are not sponsored by an employer then GSM is the way to go. GSM stands for General Skilled Migration. It is an excellent program and a very successful one.

If your skills match those on Australia’s Skilled Occupation List (SOL) and you have a good command of English, then you have more chance of success.

Prerequisites for Australia’s GSM Program:

There are various prerequisites for applying the program. They are:

  • Age: you must be over 18 years of age and below 45 years of age.
  • Language: you must be able to speak English well. This is the main prerequisite for anyone applying for this program.
  • Skill-set: you must possess skills in the areas of shortage with qualifications and recent experience in the field in which you are applying.

The qualifications and experience needed for an occupation can be cross checked in the Australia’s Skilled Occupation List – SOL for short.

Recent Changes

Significant changes were made to the GSM program in September 2007. These include:

  • a greater proficiency in English will be required, with 25 points going to those who score well in the testing system
  • a greater emphasis is now put on skills experience, with bonus points only being awarded if you have 12 months experience in your nominated occupation
  • there will be a new temporary work visa for graduates to enable them to increase their work experience
  • the GSM visa structure was simplified, instead of 15 subclasses there are now only 9: 5 for Onshore applications and 4 for Offshore applications. This should make it easier to identify which visa subclass will work best for you

GSM Categories:

There are two basic categories for those applying through the GSM program: Onshore for those already on Australian territory with current visas, and Offshore for those applying from abroad.

There are four sub-catgories in each: sponsored, independent, Regional sponsored (provisional) and graduate, with the Onshore having the additional category of a permanent Regional sponsored visa.

Applicants can be sponsored by an Australian relation or an Australian state or territory government. Independent applications are from those with the right skills and experience required. A graduate visa is for those from recognised foreign universities whose skills are required by Australia. In each case there are certain requirements that must be met and you should check each carefully.

The evaluation of applications for Australia’s General Skilled Migration Program is generally done using a points based system. To qualify, you must score the appropriate level of points set by the system. If you score a little less than required, your application may, in some cases, be placed in a reserve pool and may be considered at some future point.


Housing In Australia

Are you moving to Australia? Have you thought about or made arrangements for accommodation there? Here are a few tips for you to finalize that.

 

When you land in Australia you will be astonished to see the wide range of housing there. The designs are based on American or European style. You will find terrace houses and “Queenslanders” which are based on the weather and lifestyle of the regions. Most of the houses will have large backyards, swimming pools, parks and shopping centers which provide a comfortable living for the people.

You will find on analysis that houses in country towns and regional cities are cheaper and more easily available than those in popular capital cities. Mostly people live in the suburbs of the state capital which are closer to the place of their work, and schools.

Renting a House

Usually when you want to rent a house, you will enter into lease or ‘residential tenancy agreement’. This is usually for a period of 6-12 months. It is always advised that you first understand the terms and conditions of this agreement since you will be bound by the terms once signed. You will be paying a rental advance of 4-6 weeks. You are expected to keep the accommodation clean and without any damage to the structure. Sometimes the Government also helps by offering Rent Assistance which helps you to rent a house in the private rental market.

Buying a House

If you are interested in buying a house, realtors will come to your help and if you are buying a home for the first time, you may get Commonwealth First Home Buyers grant. You may also borrow money from a bank or other financial institution. You will require a solicitor for checking the legal documents and other paperwork. It is a dream for Australians to buy a house for their own. Buying a house costs a lot and so they obtain a loan for the purpose. You can even buy land and get a house built according to your plans.

If you are not a permanent resident of Australia then you should get permission from the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Public Housing

If you are a recipient of Centrelink payment, you will be eligible to apply for public housing. Various factors will be taken into consideration on allocating a house depending on where you are looking. These may include things like the size of your household as well as any other necessary requirements.

Government owned housing units are made available to low-income individuals at a nominal rent or no cost. You will find single houses, or flats in a high-rise block. A group of friends can make an application for public housing.

If you require a house urgently then you can apply with proof of the urgency and you will be allotted a house before others in the line. Recurring homelessness is given top priority here. You could be allotted a house anywhere within your chosen areas. If any medical problem is to be treated only at a specific hospital or doctor, you can apply for a house nearby. Waiting times depend on areas. The rent is decided by the authorities. You may have to get permission from the authorities to keep pets.

Australians usually want to own their own land or house. You will find advertisements in local dailies about availability of property for sale and rent. Because of the huge migration, there is a housing shortage in Australia and this makes rents high and availability difficult. Housing is usually more available for people who choose to work and live in towns than cities.

According to a state press release, a “Labor government would spend an extra $400 million to build 11,350 new homes over four years to ease Australia’s public housing shortage, Federal Opposition leader Mark Latham said today“. The Government is making every effort to meet the three main areas of housing in Australia, i.e., land supply and demand, infrastructure, and land taxes. Once these are met, then the demand for houses in Australia should come down. At the moment, if you are flexible about where you live, you should have no problem about getting a good house.


Transportation In Australia

 

Source: Flckr Author: MC MartinWhen you reach Australia, the first thing you will want to look for is transportation. There are all the usual options: train, air and bus services to get you around. The most economical ways are likely to be the train or bus services. If you are from Europe or America you may not find them very convenient but still they are good and economical.

Train

You will find train services like the Airport Link, which plies between Sydney Airport and the city centre in 13 minutes, is the most economical way to reach Sydney’s suburban stations. Metro Light Rail and Mono Rail provides city travel in Sydney.

The CountryLink network reaches 334 destinations in New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria. QR (Queensland Rail) offers safe and economical transport services within Queensland and interstate. The Ghan offers travel from Sydney to Melbourne. The Overland makes your travel from Melbourne to Adelaide enjoyable while V/Line offers transportation throughout Victoria, and Western Australian Government Railways around Western Australia.

Indian Pacific offers the longest cross-country train journeys from Sydney to Perth.

One visitor to Australia says, “As a frequent traveler to Sydney, as well as other parts of the world, I would give the trains an above average score for entertainment value, but a bit below average for convenience, timeliness, and cleanliness…”

Bus

You will find services such as the Brisbane-based Brisbane Buslines has scheduled services within Queensland; Eastline Buses which operate in Melbourne; Firefly Express which offers luxury interstate express coaches, and many more services that ply in and around various states in Australia. Most of them have flexi travel options. Many buses leave every 10-15 minutes to the major destinations, so if you plan your travel, you could well save a few dollars using these buses. (Why not!!)

Ferry

There are ferry services to Tasmania.

And a ‘must-do’ when visiting Sydney is the ferry to Manly. Surprisingly many locals have missed this delight.

Air

The Australian airline, Qantas, flies to all major Australian cities. You can enjoy a wide range of discounts like random discounting and internet fares. Virgin Blue is another airline that flies all over the country at very competitive fares. As there is not much long-distance transportation, you may prefer to take the airlines to reach farther destinations.

Concession Travel

Students up to 16 years of age can often travel free on buses, however do check to confirm this in the areas you will be.

Concession cards are available for students in many areas – again, check if this applies to where you will be. If they are not, then the most economical way to buy tickets is usually a weekly or monthly ticket rather than by journey.

Other ways to travel

Taxis in Australia are probably not in a student’s budget as they are very expensive!!

The elderly and unemployed often get half fare cards to assist them in getting around.

Cars are the most commonly found mode of transportation in Australia. Remember to drive on the left side of the road and watch out closely for speed restrictions as fines are heavy and better avoided! Other rules like wearing a seatbelt are stictly enforced. And you must have a license to drive!

As you can see there are multiple options for transportation in Australia. Opting for public transportation may be the best option open to you. Find what suits your purse and make the most of the opportunities.


Major Staffing From UK In Australia

United Kingdom plays a major role in filling many job roles in Australia.

Big Ben - by Hari Menon

If you are a person with engineering skills, or skilled trades residing in United Kingdom and on the look out for a job in Australia, you are sure to land up with the best jobs available. This is because there are many vacant positions for these roles in Australia. Immigrants from the United Kingdom secure the majority of these positions. Other nationalities successful in securing jobs are Chinese and South Africans – in second and third positions respectively.

Australia is a major source of jobs for many countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and India in addition to United Kingdom, China and South Africa. There are many reasons which contribute to people in United Kingdom moving to Australia for employment.

One major reason everyone knows is that the cost of living in the United Kingdom, especially in London, has drastically increased. This has made people look for places to live with more affordable cost of living, and a good work environment. Australia stands first in line!

The other main reason that you can notice for people of United Kingdom occupying a major chunk of staffing positions in Australia is the lag in education and training in Australia. This results in Australian employers facing skill shortages and hence the need for importing labor.

Since people from United Kingdom are skilled and often interested in migrating to Australia, a high proportion of Australia’s skills shortfall is made up by United Kingdom immigrants.

TV series like ‘Neighbors’, and advertisements shown on Australian television, play a major role in creating interest among the British to migrate to Australia. This is easily confirmed by talking to directors of specialist overseas recruitment firms.

Last but not the least, another influence which plays a major factor is that we all prefer to move to a place where and friends and relatives have already migrated.

If you are a graduate from United Kingdom and working for an international company, you are permitted to work in the Australian branch for a period of time. Australia features a nourishing and competitive western-style, capitalist economy. This competes on a global level and attracts people from countries like United Kingdom for Australian jobs. The Australian government always extends a welcoming hand to people having outstanding skills and attributes from any country to fill its shortage of skilled workers.

If you submit all the relevant documents and details properly filed for visa processing, the visa processing system in Australia is fast and efficient.

There is also eVisitor service launched by the Australian Visa department which will further enhance the convenience and speed of online applications. This helps people migrate more quickly to Australia without any hindrance and take up their job faster. All these factors play an important role in United Kingdom’s contribution towards providing staffing solutions in the Australian job market.


Sydney Scored Highest For Best Quality Living In World

Sydney Opera House - by Vermin Inc.

In a recently conducted analysis on the best living city in world, Sydney marked the highest score. I read this in a recently published newspaper which stated that the above analysis was done by the Worldwide Quality of Living Index.

A range of factors for best Quality of Living were taken into account to arrive at the final result:

  • economic performance
  • environmental factors
  • education facilities available in the city
  • ease of access and class of transport
  • other public services
  • political and social conditions
  • medical and health facilities provided in the city

In fact, Sydney exceeded the score established as the international standard of quality of living, which made it rank as the best city to live in, in the world! Now, who wouldn’t want to live in Sidney after this?!

You’ll find world class housing facilities in Sydney – anyone residing in Sydney cannot deny this fact. Sydney scored highest for housing, and with climatic and weather conditions also superb pushed it to even greater hights. Other two important attributes – namely socio-cultural environment and economic environment – are also good and so the scoring in this was near perfect.

Sydney occupied the second place the previous year but could top the first place for best living in the world in 2008 with people and Australian government contributing for improvement in the city.

The result of analysis was achieved only after collecting data consistently for a period of three months covering the above mentioned factors for best living with final monitoring also made on the same.

The availability of goods and services without any difficulties marks the good position of consumer industry and the reduced personal risk with an efficient infrastructure also makes Sydney reach the highest score for world’s best living city.

You can realize that any city in Australia would generally have the best standards of living in the world as Australians prefer to enjoy the same! In fact, the analysis recorded four other Australian capitals in the top thirty five positions of best cities for living in world. Among this the top ranking was occupied by Sydney. This paves the way for many multi-national companies and job seekers to make their way to Australia to enjoy the same. Australia also benefits by attracting workers and companies by filling skilled workers in shortage job positions.

You are sure to enjoy the natural beauty at Sydney as it is abundant there with its perpetual blue sky, well maintained harbor with yachting, surfing, sail boarding, swimming and water-skiing available, stunning beaches, fantastic wildlife and much more.

Sydney is a friendly city offering visitors a variety of attractions and activities. There are many nature rich national parks with many natural bush lands, making Sydney full of greenery for a healthy living.

Australian government also contributes a lot in terms of investment in infrastructure, high-quality housing, low crime, strong media for making Sydney the best city for living in the world.

One more beneficial and attractive point which would make your living at Sydney comfortable is though Sydney is ranked as the best city in the world, the cost of living at Sydney is not much and is very affordable. So enjoy!


Australia – A Top Travel Destination?

Many people like me who live in Australia would surely rate New Zealand as the top ‘must-see’ destination. It is always true that many people would not want to go too far out of their cultural comfort zone.

Surf Australia - Michael Dawes

Like Australians preferring New Zealand as the top ‘must-see’ destination, many people living in New Zealand prefer Australia as their top ‘must-see’ destination. There are various reasons for this and the one that strikes my mind is that Australia is like New Zealand with the difference being only in bigger size, more diverse and with better weather.

However, in the whole Asia Pacific region Australia ranks top among travel destinations preferred by many people.

The above statement was confirmed by Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). They survey reported that about 2.7 million people already visited Australia in 2007 and also this number is confidently forecast to increase in future.

The above statistics are based on door-to-door interviews conducted among various people of nine countries and territories. The survey asked people to list their top five ‘must-visit’ travel destinations in Asia Pacific region in order of priority and among this, a majority responded with Australia as their top ‘must-see’ destination.

There are various reasons for majority of people preferring Australia. Before residing in Australia, I had visited Australia about seven to eight times… What drew me back, time and again?

  • amazing scenery
  • fascinating Aboriginal history
  • an land of contrasts
  • remarkable variety in nature
  • dramatic night skies

There are various places in Australia – like Kimberley – which bear testimony to the above beauty and features. One more vital reason is these factors remain unaltered for years and are sure to be there for keeps!

Though I have lived in Australia for so many years there are yet a lot of great places for me to see. Australia is a diverse country which contains lots and lots of cities, towns, rock formations, beaches, forests, deserts and islands to be explored which cannot be finished in just one travel visit.

I liked Sydney in Australia which has a moderate climate with warm summers, mild winters and rainfall that is spread throughout the year. The climatic conditions in Australia also make people prefer it as a top destination.

There are many nature lovers like me for whom the best place would be Gold Coast in Queensland. This area is a perfect blend of man made and natural attractions which is an eye-catching treat for nature lovers and is sure to make them prefer it as their top ‘must-see’ destination – even the next time round!

During my travels to Australia, I stayed in Melbourne where I found cost of living is cheap and less crowded than other places.

My visit to Tiwi islands is surely an unforgettable cultural experience and anyone would definitely have this in the top of their travel list each time. All these above factors like amazing scenic beauty, excellent climatic conditions, options for cheaper cost of living, great cultural experience, and abandon natural beauty contribute towards majority of people preferring Australia as their top ‘must-see’ destination.

Being such a cornucopia of natural beauty and such a melting pot of cultures, its no wonder that Australia is fast emerging as the dream destination – not only to travel to, but also to live in!