Australia wants temporary visa holders back ‘as soon as possible’ says Immigration Minister Alex Hawke

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After nearly a year of COVID-19 prompted border restrictions, the newly appointed Immigration Minister Alex Hawke today signalled that the government is planning to allow temporary migrants, including international students and visitors, back into the country as soon as possible.

In an interview with SBS News, Mr Hawke said the government is preparing to open international borders.

“We’ve learnt one thing out of COVID, and that is we absolutely miss the visitors to our economy and temporary visa holders. We want them back as soon as possible,” the immigration minister said.

“That’s why the government is rolling out our vaccination program and preparing for the opening of our international borders, so we can have those important visits from tourists that spend so much money in our country – but also the international student sector, one of our largest export sectors, they value-add so inherently to the Australian economy – we want to get them back.”

The minister’s statement comes as the latest data from the Department of Home Affairs reveals that offshore international student visa applications have plunged, registering a 65% dip in the second half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

The biggest tumble has been witnessed in visa applications lodged from India – the second-largest source of students to Australia, second only to China.

The uncertainty around travel is forcing many migrants stuck offshore to consider moving to other countries like Canada.

The Immigration Minister reaffirmed that migration would be key to lifting Australia’s economy out of the red.

Source : SBS news

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