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As Visa refusal for Australia increases applicants are now exploring Canada

With stricter measures put in place after a comprehensive 190-page Migration Review Report by the Australia’s Home Affairs Department released in March 2023, Bhutanese exploring the Australia dream have started facing increasing visa refusals.

Those who were rejected are now trying for a new option, the Canadian visa. Education consultancies share that Canada is gaining market and it seems the trend will shift from Australia to Canada.

According to consultants from various consultancies, the visa refusal depends on the potential of the students and strong documents.

The Migration Review Report raised red flags on how education visas are being misused as opportunities to work, recommending tighter screening of student visa applicants and measures to shorten the stay of international students after graduation.

Tandin, a consultant in one of the major consultancies said that visa refusal has been increasing. “The refusal depends on firstly, the applicant’s potential, secondly, the consultant’s guidance, and lastly, it also depends on luck sometimes. We, the consultants, try our best and guide them till the end, however, refusals depend on the applicants themselves.”

Similar sentiments were shared by other consultants too.

According to Palden Tshering, the Chairperson of Association of Bhutanese Education Consultancies (ABEC), the visa rejection is a direct result of the applicant’s profile. “Poor grades in high school, unexplained study gaps, not providing documented evidence to explain what your circumstances are, low TOEFL scores, an SOP not written by yourself, are just few reasons of rejection.”

“We have heard of larger number of visa rejections within the market. What everyone needs to understand is that education and training consultancy placement firms have all gone through a strict process in Bhutan to get registered with trained and certified counsellors. When you deal with a company that is not registered in Bhutan, you’re opening yourself to risk, you need to be advised if your documents are correct, has your consultant cross checked your information, were you given reliable advice to make an informed decision, have you asked your consultant the right questions? When you don’t ask, problems arise and you start seeing more rejections,” he added.

He also pointed out that earlier this year, the Australian High Commission made it very clear that there were going to be changes to the processing of visa applications.

He added. “Those consultants that were able to adapt have not seen a higher rate of rejection. Bhutan has the highest visa acceptance rate for undergraduate and the post graduate category in the region. The diploma and VET sectors for visa rejections are on par with the region, which is overall quite high.”

Applicants are also complaining of the calls from Australian High Commission, which are quite frequent compared to earlier times.

One applicant did not receive a call fearing it might have been a spam call which led to her refusal of visa. One applicant could not receive the call because she was busy at the time which led to a refusal.

Similar situations are shared by many applicants, with some unable to talk with them which led to a refusal of their visa.

According to the CEO of EducationPro, Tshering Nidup, the frequent calls from the Australian High Commission is mainly due to change in policies.

He said, “The Australian government and universities, at large, are tightening the requirements for international students to ensure that students are actually there to study. They are moving from Genuine Temporary Entrant Criterion to Genuine Student Test.”

Before, the calls from the Australian High Commission would be less, but it has now increased a lot.

Palden Tshering pointed out that the recent visa rejections are not necessarily from the consultants based in Bhutan. He said, “They represent very questionable private education providers in Australia, especially Perth, delivering low quality courses set up to allow students to work. These are the contributing factors to the higher rejections.”

He also added that international student visa applicants should expect to get a call from Australian immigration, and further said, “All ABEC members have briefed their clients about the changes. The questions asked are not trick questions, they are basic questions that any students who has been involved with their application process can answer. The calls are being implemented on a more regular basis now, but it actually works in your favour as it speeds up the process.”

Pema Wangdra, the CEO of SherigX consultancy shared that Bhutan has a high visa acceptance rate, but those who got rejected are trying out for Canada.

He said, “The Canada market is picking up these days and the trend is shifting from Australia to Canada. Those who got rejected for Australian visa are now trying out for Canada, and for Canada, it is easier to apply than Australia.”

However, he added that biometrics is a bit of a challenge as people have to go to India for biometrics. He shared that they are requesting Canadian High Commission for biometrics to be done in Bhutan, which are done once or twice in a year in Bhutan.

As the rejection rates for Australia go higher, it seems that people’s next destination will be Canada. Consultants share that Canada is cheaper that Australia, in terms of fees. He pointed out that Canada is a more affordable option.

“We are pushing forth with Canada right now. Most of those applicants rejected by Australia are now trying out for Canada and almost everyone of them has made it through. Of course, it does not mean that the Canadian immigration office is lenient or easy. However, in terms of affordability and applying for universities in Canada, it is simply easier than Australia,” he said, and adding further, “The trend before was applicants trying out for Australia, it was their first choice, but now, there are applicants who come for consultation whose first choice is Canada.”

It seems that now the trends are shifting, from Australia dream to other countries, especially Canada and a few to United Kingdom which also offers shorter Masters Courses. 

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