COVID- 19 and International Students in Australia

State Library of Victoria (Geraldine Lewa/Unsplash)

Australia, like the rest of the world has been implementing several strategies to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Like other nations, they too are aiming for a Covid-19 normal situation.

While the virus does not discriminate between individuals, the impact of the pandemic has been particularly hard on Australia’s international students. Loss of part time jobs and ineligibility to receive assistance from the federal government has made the lives of international students difficult. Furthermore, visa related issues are said to be aggravating their stress.

It is advised that international students seek professional counseling early to minimize the risk of visa-related issues, and to enjoy their peace of mind.

In a conversation with one of the Nepalese students currently residing in Glenroy, the student expressed how tough it has been to manage expenses after losing a part time job in hospitality. In many courses, students are required to complete their internship as a compulsory course requirement. But due to COVID-19 many students are struggling hard to secure a placement which has delayed timely course completion.

One of the Registered Migration Agent at Nepcoms, Melbourne, Shramita Shrestha explained the measures taken by the government to ease visa application. “For students who are not able to complete the course due to COVID-19, the visa application fee will be waived to allow them to lodge another student visa”, Shramita added. So it is always a wise decision to consult with the professionals rather than overthinking and developing anxiety.

Visa Hassle:

One of the most difficult situations faced by many international students is issues related to their visa status. “My current student visa is expiring on 22nd of September”, a student in western suburb of Melbourne said, “There are a lot of confusions going around at the moment with visa medical issues, upfront payment to the college for enrolment and all”.

Suman KC, an immigration lawyer and Registered Migration Agent at Solace Legal, Sydney accepts the fact that COVID-19 has put tremendous mental pressure among the students during their visa applications. However, the Department of Home affairs has been introducing many different changes to assist the visa applications. Temporary resident Visa can now be applied offshore. The visa application can be made within 12 months after completion of study and the visa starts from the date of entry. “Applicants need to be aware of the most recent provisions”, Suman says “ Our team is happy to provide a free consultation on the most recent updates and assist them in the best possible way”.

A student recently graduated from Melbourne was all set to move to Regional Australia to build her pathway to PR. However, tougher border restrictions and the mandatory hotel quarantine proved to be costly and had to drop the idea temporarily. Her concern is that if she won’t be able to fulfill the requirements to get permanent residency while on her temporary graduate 485 visa.

In order to help the students at this stage and provide suitable guidance, one of the leading Educational consultancy, Expert Education and Visa Services Melbourne, has come forward with an assistance and support package. Director Of Expert Education and Visa Services, Melbourne, Basanta Pokharel said that they would leave no stones unturned to help international students in visa related issues offering 50 % off in all service fee and negotiating with the college and universities to keep the enrolment fee the minimum possible with installment facility. He also added that any student who is unable to pay service fee at the moment may still take the service and pay when he or she is able to.

Taking care of mental health

This is a high time to take care of mental health. Being trapped inside the house is definitely not an entertaining task. It is easy to say “Things will get better. Don’t worry”. But the pain and stress is definitely with the one who faces it.

Stress management is definitely the most important thing to do. The basic approach in managing the stress is to identify the trigger that makes us feel low and generate creative effort in keeping ourselves engaged. The four A technique of Avoid, Alter, Accept and Adapt could be an effective stress management tool. Remaining in touch with the loved ones through electronic media is crucial which creates a sense of ownership and emotional security that we are here for each other. This is the right time to identify our potential and prove that we are able to stand and get through this global pandemic. We all have heard that “’What doesn’t break us, makes us stronger”. So helping each other in need will bring us together and stronger.

Last but not the least; visa application should not be made stressful by running behind rumors. It has to be sorted out in the best possible way.