Australian govt screens Indian education migration agents

Australian govt screens Indian education migration agents

The measure would serve to tighten the process of immigration after questions were raised over the credibility of several migration agents in India who were allegedly breaching the system and sending students on fake documents.

Australian government had earlier this year asked all student eVisa agents, including registered migration agents operating within Australia and education agents operating outside Australia, to re-register under the new agreement that clearly stated the role expected from them and also included a code of conduct for them.

The earlier access agreement was terminated and the government asked all education agents to submit fresh expressions of interests. While 121 service providers had expressed interest, only 22 were registered by the government after a process.
The focus on immigration was brought about by the increasing number of attacks on Indian students last year, and also after several private colleges closed down leaving students stranded.

The number of Indian students seeking admissions in Australian colleges already dropped this year following large scale media coverage of attacks on the community.
"For agents operating within India, Australian High Commission in New Delhi manages re-registrations. New Delhi has re-registered 22 agencies to lodge student eVisa applications," according to Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).
DIAC spokesperson said that as a part of the re-registration process, all agents were invited to attend information sessions organised by the department's New Delhi post regarding the new deed of agreement and re-registration.

At these sessions, agents were informed of the six critical criteria that Australian government would look for in eVisa agents, including suitable information verification procedures while assessing visa applications and support documents and a robust internal auditing procedures.

"Some 120 expressions of interest were received by our New Delhi post. All were assessed against a range of objective criteria, and a shortlist of successful agencies was developed," he added.

The new agreemnet refers to transparent procedures for the provision of audits and any sanctions that an agent may incur if they breach the terms of the agreement.
Though this would be initial agencies invited to sign the new deed of agreement, there was no proposal to expand this list, the spokesperson said.

The agency should have adequate training of staff in Australian international education industry and in Australian immigration systems and processes as well as appropriate record-keeping systems.

There must be a code of conduct for employees and a positive record in dealing with Australian government and should be of good character.All agents who attended the sessions were invited to lodge an expression of interest with Australian High Commission in New Delhi for consideration.All agencies who submitted expressions of interest were assessed, and strong performing agencies were to be invited to sign the deed of agreement.

DIAC said all successful eVisa agents were subject to regular audits to assess whether they continue to meet the terms of the deed of agreement.It was further mentioned that there would be regular audits of registered evisa agencies and the Australian government will analyse their performance against the terms and expectations of the deed of agreement.

"The Australian government also carefully assesses all applications from agents to ensure that student visa applicants meet requirements for the visa grant.
"These include that the applicant has a genuine intention to study in Australia and has not provided false or fraudulent information in their application," the spokesperson added.

It is expected that agents would verify information provided as part of an application and also to provide assurances that they have performed verification checks.
According to well known education agent and managing Director of Global Reach Ravi Lochan, who made it in the list: "it was a turning point in the industry".

"I fully agree with DIAC's efforts in cleansing the industry and focussing more on the integrity issues than mere volume of visa lodgements. Several measures are in place now," he said.

"The packaging loophole has been plugged and the message is clear that Australia welcomes Indian students but only quality Indian students aiming for quality Australian institutions with education as the prime goal.He said several Indian education agents are certainly unhappy that they have been left out."However, DIAC knows more than me and you and it is their prerogative," he said.

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