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Postgraduate students “pending” for two years waiting for a decision on a visa to Australia

Postgraduate students

These students say they are suspended because the Australian Department of Homeland Affairs, which oversees immigration, refuses to give an exact deadline when students can expect to hear the results of their applications.

Alakita, an Indian student, received an offer to study aerospace engineering at UNSW Canberra in September 2020 and was due to begin her PhD in February 2021.

“I suffered from insomnia, anxiety and depression”

Her visa has been “under evaluation” since she applied in early October 2020, and she says that when she requests updates from the DHA, she always gets only “general” answers.

Alokita says the university has been “very supportive” and has allowed her to postpone her place five times due to delays, but this will not allow further delays – if her visa is not accepted by June, she will lose her scholarship and doctorate.

“Every day I wake up hoping to get a conclusion, a direction and a fixed course of action, but every day I face the same uncertainty,” Alokita said, adding that the last two years have been “filled with insanity.”

UNSW Canberra did not respond to requests for comment.

Hamed, 34, of Iran, has received an offer from the University of Newcastle to pursue a doctorate in electrical engineering and is still awaiting a decision on his visa application, which he applied for in January 2020.

“I can’t get those two years back”

Hamed said he had turned down several job offers because he thought he would move to Australia.

“I can’t bring back those two years,” he said. “I can’t make plans for my future, and it makes me nervous every day.”

All applicants say they have contacted DHA many times – in some cases their universities and supervisors have also contacted DHA on their behalf – but government agency responses rarely indicate when they can expect a solution.

“Each time they send a general response stating that my application is being actively reviewed and that mandatory verifications by outside agencies can take two years or more,” said Tanushri, another Indian student who said she had waited more than a year. visa decision.

“I suffered from insomnia, anxiety and depression … This visa delay affects my mental health,” she said.

Students also claim to know others who have recently applied for and received the same visas.

“We see that students who applied just a couple of months ago get a visa, and students like me have been waiting for more than a year and a half,” Alokita said.

The DHA website states that 75% of postgraduate research visas are completed within 85 days and that “in March 2022, 90% of applications when a client is outside Australia have been completed in 74 days”. It is unclear how many applicants are now awaiting deferred decisions.

“Student visa applications from applicants outside Australia have priority to allow new students to enter Australia and start their course,” the DHA website said. “So the processing time for this cohort is faster.”

However, this was announced by a representative of the DHA PIE news that “the time required to obtain a student visa depends on a number of factors, including the personal circumstances of the applicant.

“A visa cannot be issued until the Department meets all the requirements.

“All non-citizens applying for a visa to enter Australia are treated on an individual basis and contrary to the legal requirements set out in Australian migration law.”

The spokesperson also confirmed that between November 20, 2021 and April 29, 2022, the DHA issued nearly 84,000 student visas to offshore applicants.

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