Fury over Indian students being 'cheated' following change in Oz residency laws

Melbourne, Sept 24 (ANI): Thousands of foreign students, including Indians, might reportedly ignore the Australian government's "cap and cull" bill that aims to cancel the visa applications of international students, and try to stay in the country illegally, especially once they realise that that the stricter rules would dash their hopes of applying for permanent residency.

According to The Australian, Sydney immigration lawyer David Bitel, said that the immigrants with the expectation of permanent residence, would not leave the country so easily.

"People are not just going to go (home). They had an expectation of permanent residence. They're furious. They came here, they paid thousands of dollars. In two to three years' time, what the government will find is there will be tens of thousands of illegals out there," Bitel added.

He believes at least 100,000 students who had enrolled when the rules gave good reason to expect permanent residency could fail to qualify for a visa under the new regime.

Bitel, from the firm Parish Patience and ex-president of the Refugee Council of Australia, further stated that there were already signs of desperate students looking to refugee claims as a fallback.

Overseas student numbers in vocational colleges rose from 53,301 in 2002 (a year after the Howard government allowed foreign graduates to stay to pursue permanent residency) to 231,452 in 2009. University numbers grew from 115,200 to 203,955 over the same period.

The Migration Institute of Australia's Maureen Horder said there were an estimated 147,000 ex-students in the permanent residency queue, although some were offshore.

"We invited them as our guests (under the old rules), then we slammed the door on them. Now, that's not very polite," she added.

Horder also said it was premature to predict an outbreak of overstayers since ex-students still had the grace period in which to seek work experience and sponsorship in the hope of securing permanent residency under the new rules. But the government should act to head off any crisis. (ANI)

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