Destination Australia – The coin’s two sides

Destination Australia – The coin’s two sides

There is good and bad news for Bhutanese aspiring to move to Australia for work and studies. On one hand, Australia is welcoming teachers and nurses to migrate to the country. On the other, there has been several Bhutanese whose visas have been rejected in the last couple of months.

Speaking about it, Chairman of the Association of Bhutanese Education Consultancy (ABEC), Palden Tshering highlighted that Bhutan holds the highest acceptance rate for undergraduate and postgraduate visas in the region. However, there has been reports of increased visa rejections by the Australian government in recent times.  ABEC’s Chairman clarified that “rejection rates for diploma and vocational education and training (VET) sectors are on par with the regional average, which is relatively high.”

Palden Tshering, who is also the head of operations for Global Reach, an education consultancy firm in Bhutan, emphasized that academic documents provided by clients are thoroughly vetted to maintain industry credibility. Speaking about rumors of forged he said that consultants are responsible for cross-checking the authenticity of documents.

“Earlier this year the Australian High Commission made it very clear that there were going to be changes to the processing of visa applications. Those consultants that were able to adapt have not seen a higher rate of rejection,” he added.

He further explained that visas are issued based on the chosen institute, course of study, and student profile.

“Changing any of these factors requires the issuance of a new visa, and students who fail to report to their designated university may face consequences such as visa cancellation or adverse effects on their post-study visas,” he said.

The ABEC Chairman expressed concern over the larger number of visa rejections in the market and said that students should choose registered and certified counselors who provide reliable advice.

He emphasized the importance of submitting accurate documents, asking the right questions, and making informed decisions to avoid visa rejections.

“Factors such as poor grades, unexplained study gaps, insufficient evidence, low TOEFL scores, or a generic Statement of Purpose (SOP) can contribute to visa rejections.”

Meanwhile, Australia’s visa rule alterations encompass a broad range of modifications, including an allocation of 70% of places to skilled migrants, extended post-study work rights for specific visa holders, an increase in the skilled migration income threshold, exemptions for international students in the aged care sector, additional training opportunities for Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme workers and a new work scheme for Indian graduates. It also includes eased nomination criteria for Subclass 190 visas in New South Wales, increased nomination allocations for South Australia, updated requirements for temporary visa applicants, changes in Trades Recognition Australia guidelines, updates to skilled migration caps and state-sponsored visas, the removal of COVID-19 restrictions, acceptance of applications by federal and state governments, pathways to permanent residency for Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa holders, age exemptions for Subclass 457 visa holders, a third TSS visa for eligible former holders, and revised visa fees.

“Rising the temporary skilled migration income threshold to $70,000 to make certain skilled migration settings are better targeted,” says an announcement from the Australian government, adding that exempting international students working in the aged care sector from the capped fortnightly work cap hour until December 2023.

However, a concern for Bhutan is the Australian government’s decision to prioritize visa processing for teachers and healthcare workers.

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) in Australia has abolished the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL), which previously ranked skilled visa applications. Instead, skilled visa applications will now be processed based on the government’s policy priorities outlined in Ministerial Direction No. 100. Consequently, teachers and healthcare workers will receive priority processing for their visa applications.

This development has significant ramifications for Bhutan, a nation grappling with a severe shortage of healthcare workers and teachers. Reports indicate that schools across the country currently face a shortage of 842 teachers, exacerbating the already strained education system.

Similarly, the healthcare sector has long struggled to meet the World Health Organization’s recommended threshold for healthcare workers. The recent changes in Australia’s visa rules have only added fuel to the fire, exacerbating the shortage crisis in these crucial sectors.

As the Australian government’s visa rule changes take effect, Bhutanese citizens seeking greener pastures abroad are expected to increase, driven by the opportunity to secure employment in the teaching and healthcare sectors. However, it is essential for prospective applicants to navigate the visa application process diligently, ensuring compliance with regulations and seeking assistance from reputable educational and training consultancy firms to avoid the risk of rejection.

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu