Overseas students to suffer under changes

Issue 
Fairness and Justice for Overseas Students held a protest in Sydney on June 12.

A new Sydney group, Fairness and Justice for Overseas Students, held protests on May 1 and June 12 against changes to the skilled migration program. The changes will affect thousands of Asian vocational students studying in Australia.

Immigration minister Chris Evans announced the changes on February 8. Among the changes was a new list of skills and occupations that would qualify overseas workers for the program.

The skilled migration program is aimed at attracting overseas workers with skills Australian business needs. These skills, listed on the immigration department’s Skilled Occupation List (SOL), contribute to eligibility for permanent residency.

The new SOL, announced on May 17, is mainly made up of highly specialised professions and trades requiring either university training or long apprenticeships.

Some trades on the previous Coalition government’s SOL, such as hairdressing and commercial cookery, have been excluded. The inclusion of these trades had made permanent residency relatively accessible for hundreds of thousands of young people from India, China and other Asian countries, as they could be acquired by short-term, albeit expensive, vocational courses.

The new SOL will start on July 1 and will affect the 122,000 Asian vocational students already here studying under the old SOL. The vast majority will be ineligible for permanent residency. Only those who graduated from vocational courses before February 8 will be eligible to apply for skilled migration under the old SOL.

[For more information about Fairness and Justice for Overseas Students, or to support its petition campaign, phone Iggy Kim 0421 322 175, Jamie Kim 0414 011 990, or Byung-jo Kang 0414 116 758.]