NEW DELHI, March 2 (PTI): The pendency of Australian visa applications from Indians was discussed again at a bilateral forum, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Thursday.
Pradhan discussed the issue with his Australian counterpart Jason Clare, who is on a visit to India till March 5. Clare informed that clearing the education visa applications of Indian students is a top priority for his country.
“After the COVID-19 pandemic, the visa process for students and the workforce had significantly slowed down. Last year, the Australian government assured us that it would add more manpower and enhance the ease of the process,” the education minister told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.
“The pendency of four lakh visa applications from Indians has been reduced in the last five months. Still a sizeable number is pending. The issue was again discussed at a bilateral forum when we spoke of student mobility,” he said.
Clare is leading a delegation of Australian higher education leaders to promote institutional partnerships and boost the collaboration between the two countries.
His visit builds on Pradhan’s trip to Australia last year.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had, in October last year, taken up the issue of visa backlog with Australian authorities, particularly matters related to students seeking to return to educational institutions in the country following the pandemic.
The issue was taken up with the Australian authorities following numerous complaints from Indian students seeking visas either to return to educational institutions or to join new courses.
India is one of the top sources of skilled immigrants to Australia. Approximately 1,05,000 Indian students presently study in Australian universities. After the United Kingdom, India was the second-largest migrant group in Australia in 2020.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is set to make his maiden trip to India next week, with an aim to boost the overall bilateral engagement in a range of areas, including trade, investment and critical minerals.