More visa refusals from uncertified education consultancies
If you want to go overseas to pursue studies, for employment, and apply for a student visa. A few of them would ace the visa test, while for some, it may be a nightmare because of the visa rejection.
Despite being noticed that Bhutanese leave abroad for employment and studies, it is saddening to know that your visa is refused. However, Business Bhutan found that most of the students’ visas are refused for February intake, 2023.
For this matter, Business Bhutan talks with the Chairman of the Association of Bhutanese Education Consultancies (BQPCA), Palden Tshering.
According to Palden Tshering, a large number of visa refusals were found from those consultancies operating without a business license and not registered with BQPCA.
He said that when unlicensed agents operate, they do not have access to the same information, and unskilled counselors inadvertently provide the wrong information and the wrong advice. “This directly affects your student visa or refusal,” he said.
He added that the highest category of visa refusals was for diplomas. “I believe that there was only a 36% visa success rate for Bhutan,” he said, adding that he attributes this to students dealing with agents that are not licensed and not registered with the BQPCA.
In addition, he said that education consultancies and training consultancies are partly to blame, and the other part of the blame is with students and even with the Australian High Commission in New Delhi.
“It’s our collective responsibility to ensure that every client has the correct information, and consultancies do this through counseling,” Palden said, adding that if consultancies are not effective enough with communication and writing their own Statement of Purpose (SOP), are not clear with the reasons for a client to redo their Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and not take an English language package.
“Such things will affect student profile and most probably a visa rejection. It’s a failure on their part,” he said.
“It seems simple enough, but there are a lot of people who have been misinformed and base their own decisions on that information,” he said adding that in some circumstances, the client sends their brother or sister to fill up the forms on their behalf.
When asked about the fault of the Australian High Commission, he said, “We need to understand that the visa officers are dealing with applicants from Bhutan, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal.” He also said that the number of applicants they receive daily is ridiculous and mistakes are made.
According to the chairman, it is not possible for a visa to be granted as soon as the client receives an offer letter. “Regarding a 24-hour visa grant, it is true that a visa can be granted in 24 hours, but these are exceptions.”
Every consultancy in Bhutan has experienced fast turnaround times—in one hour, in one day, in one week, he said, adding that 25 visa grants do come in one day, even 50 visa grants in one day. “Using this as a marketing tool is irresponsible because it sets unrealistic expectations with the public, and the majority of the consultants have chosen not to market themselves in this way,” he said.
However, he shared that visas have taken four to five months and it’s also true that there are 25 visa refusals in one day and even 50 visa refusals in one day as well.
When it comes to student visas, he said that it is extremely subjective, there is no formula that guarantees anything. “A visa application is about putting forward the best representation of yourself with evidence,” he said.
Meanwhile, it is also found that the information that is pushed out to help educate the market and agreed that this kind of messaging is misleading and misinforms the general public.
“One of the objectives in 2023 for all Bhutanese Education and Training Consultancies registered in Bhutan is to be responsible with our messaging so we nurture the trust that our profession has with the public,” the chairman said.
There have been some changes made by the Australian government regarding the application. “Firstly, a 300-word SOP written by the client is mandatory; a four- to five-page SOP will not be read anymore,” he said, adding that these two aspects help speed up visa processing time and allow the High Commission to verify the genuineness of the applicant quicker.
“The visa process times on average are now six to eight weeks because of additional manpower in their visa section,” he said.
Regarding the qualification of partners affecting each other, he said that people believe that the qualification matters, but this has not been substantiated by the Australian High Commission. “In some cases, it could, and in some cases, it won’t. The number rule states that it is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.”
Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu