Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 20 September 2018) . . Page.. 3870 ..
were enrolled in an ACT educational institution on or before 29 June 2018, the day of the program closure, allowing these individuals to apply for ACT nomination for a 190 visa under the policy in place before 29 June.
The Clerk having announced that the terms of the petition would be recorded in Hansard and referred to the appropriate ministers for response pursuant to standing order 100, the petition was received.
Pursuant to standing order 99A, the petition, having more than 500 signatories, was referred to the Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs.
MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (10.01), by leave: I have presented a petition signed by 508 Canberra residents calling on this Assembly to urge the ACT government to allow international students who were involved in an ACT educational institution on or before 29 June 2018 to apply for ACT nomination for a 190 visa under the guidelines that were in place before this date. Many of these students find themselves in very difficult circumstances. I have spoken with a number of them, all of whom carefully chose to migrate to the ACT because of what they understood about the territory’s skilled nominated visa scheme. This understanding was based upon information provided on the government’s migration website and also in government-sponsored promotional material.
In previous years these students would have been fine, as the figures and charts in the government’s recently released discussion paper make clear. The 190 visa scheme has functioned quite well in the past, attracting roughly the same number of intending migrants each year as the number of sponsored visas allotted to the territory by the Department of Home Affairs.
This changed dramatically in 2017-18. Again referencing the government’s own discussion paper, in the first nine months of the last financial year international student commencements in vocational education in Canberra jumped 700 per cent. The University of Canberra reported a nearly 30 per cent increase in international student commencements in 2018.
In short, the ACT has had a large influx of international students since 1 July 2017. The government’s discussion paper considers a number of possible reasons for this influx, but in my personal conversations with many of these students they have assured me that they were specifically attracted to the territory’s skilled nominated visa scheme and its implied assurance that they would be able to apply for nomination after only 12 months of residence and completing a certificate III or higher qualification.
From their perspective, the ACT government specifically targeted them through its advertising and promoting of potential migration opportunity. The problem is that this promotion works too well and, by the time the ACT government abruptly closed the scheme to many intending migrants on 29 June this year, nearly 1,100 applications for territory sponsorship had been filed, despite there being only 800 visas available.