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Friday, 17 November 2017 16:55

Visitor and Student visa refusals

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Visitor and Student visa refusals

Have you or someone you know had a Student or Visitor visa application refused recently?

We understand there are concerns in the Venezuelan community in Australia that the Department of Immigration is refusing Student and Visitor visa applications from Venezuelan citizens.

Given unfolding events in Venezuela and the numbers of people who are seeking to leave that country either temporarily or permanently, there may have been a spike in applications from Venezuela, and a spike in visa refusals.

If applications are being refused it will not reflect they are being made by Venezuelan citizens as such but the legal criteria that are applied to Student and Visitor visa applications.

This article clarifies the issues.

Student visa - Genuine Temporary Entrant

To apply for a Student visa you must meet the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement. To do this you must establish you have a genuine intention to stay in Australia temporarily. The Australian Government uses the GTE requirement as an “integrity measure to ensure that the student visa programme is used as intended and not as a way for international students to maintain ongoing residency in Australia”.

However, the factors that can be taken into account are very broad, and include individual economic circumstances and how you propose to fund your trip to Australia or studies in Australia, whether you have a job to return to, and whether you are in a third country without a visa. It can also include political and civil unrest in your home country and the influence these may have on your perceived motivations for applying for a Student visa.

It also includes factors that are not at all personal to you including the visa history or your relatives, the percentage of people from your country who have previously committed visa fraud, or “any relevant matter”.

The exercise of this discretion is not subject to any kind of review if you apply for the visa from outside Australia.

In effect, and without pre-judging the situation in Venezuela, the law gives the Department of Immigration a perfect excuse to refuse every application made by a Venezuelan for a Student visa. However, this is not an anti-Venezuelan law as it not just Venezuela that could be considered to fall foul of this requirement but other countries that have internal problems, and not applicants from Venezuela are being refused.

Visitor visa Genuine Visitor

Similarly, the law gives high levels of discretion to case officer to refuse Visitor visa applications.

In many cases the Department refuses to grant Visitor visas to family members of Australian citizens or permanent residents because they think the family member has no incentive to return their country at the end of the visa.

These decisions can be very harsh in their impact on visa applicants but particularly so on Australian permanent residents and citizens. VisAustralia has seen Visitor visas refused to a woman wanting to visit a sister having a baby in Australia and to two cricket mad Indian brothers intending to visit a third brother during the Cricket World Cup.

Recent migrants rightly find these kinds of decisions up-setting and alienating.

Why the policy?

The Australian Government uses the discretion to prevent people from coming into Australia on Visitor or Student visas who they suspect will either breach their visa conditions (for example, by working when they should not), or will not leave at the end of the visa period, or who may apply for another kind of visa once they arrive in Australia.

This could include applying for a Protection or a Partner visa.

Protection visa

You can apply for a Protection visa if you are outside your home country and cannot return because you have a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or membership of a particular social group. Australia is obliged under the Refugees Convention to provide protection to refugees and to ensure they are not returned to any place where they are likely to face persecution.

If you apply from a Protection or most any kind visa from within Australia you receive a bridging visa that allows you to live in Australia until the decision is made on the application. It also gives you the right to go to the Tribunal and Federal Court. It can take years for a person to go through the review process before finally being granted a Protection visa or compelled to leave the country.

Partner visa

You can apply for a Partner visa from outside or inside Australia. If you apply from inside Australia you have access to Medicare and full work rights. These are significant and generous advantages. However, the purpose of the Visitor visa is to have a holiday or visit friends or relatives, it is not to come to Australia to apply for a Partner visa.

While there may be reasonable reasons for the policy, the implementation of the policy and the lack of review rights for decisions made by the Department, particularly in the case of the family members of permanent residents, is harsh.

Is the Department of Immigration unfairly refusing Student and Visitor visa applications of Venezuelan citizens?

The answer to the question is yes, it is unfairly refusing applications from Venezuelan citizens. However, it is not just Venezuelan citizens who are having visas unfairly refused but people from all developing countries and countries experiencing social unrest.

Seek advice

If you or a family member has had a Student or Visitor application refused we invite you to contact VisAustralia for advice.

In some cases there are solutions, whether they be seeking a formal review of the application in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, making a second repeat application that improves and fixes the problems of the first application, or in applying for another visa, like the Family Sponsored Visitor visa or a Skilled or Partner visa application that does not have the GTE requirement.

Read 10514 times Last modified on Sunday, 19 November 2017 17:16

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