Meet Pooja and her husband Jipal.
The couple moved to Tasmania nearly two years ago to start a better life in regional Australia. Like many Indian nationals who have completed their higher education study in Australia, they are seeking a regional pathway to obtain permanent residency. The couple needs to obtain Tasmanian sponsorship for the new 491 visas and everything is on track except for one major obstacle, obtaining positive skill assessment from Engineers Australia.
Pooja has tried twice for her skill assessment as an Electronics Engineer to be assessed. She has been refused twice and received a one year ban from re-applying, twice. EA claimed parts of her Competency Demonstration Report (CDR) were plagiarised and misleading information was provided. Pooja strongly denies this accusation. In her lastest refusal letter in October 2019, EA made the following claim;
Engineers Australia have identified that one or more of your career episodes have been copied – either from internet sources, publications or career episodes previously submitted to Engineers Australia. Engineers Australia have also identified that some of the submitted documents in support of Migration Skills Assessment are misleading.
The letter provided no details of what part of her CDR they are referring to nor any indication of what documents that they believe are misleading. EA then go on to say;
Consequently, your application is rejected and a Twelve Month ban has been imposed. We advise that relevant information about your case may be passed on to the Department of Home Affairs for further investigation.
When Pooja received this letter she felt devastated. She said, “yes I made some errors in my first application for which they banned me for twelve months before. This time I made sure there were no mistakes but they are falsely accusing me of the same thing”.
Pooja’s 2nd one year ban expires in October this year but their 485 visa expires in August this year and they need the skill assessment as an Engineer to apply for the state sponsorship and then the 491 visas.
In tears, Pooja explained, I have since learned that recently a male international student was accused of the same thing by EA and he only received a warning letter, but EA has banned me twice.” Pooja feels she has been discriminated against for being a woman.
Pooja came to my office after she received the second refusal. Unfortunately, we have seen many letters like these from EA which basically all basically say the same thing. Many students admit they had made a mistake and in the past, we advised best to wait it out and apply again without the mistakes.
In Pooja’s case, she had done exactly that, learned from her mistakes and applied again making sure it was all her own work and also submitting copies of her projects from her Engineering Degree. So how did EA come to the same conclusion? Well, we don’t know and that’s the point. It is also impossible to fathom why one male international student receives just a warning letter but Pooja receives two 1 year bans.
EA makes these claims, then imposes a harsh penalty but explains nothing and gives no natural justice to Pooja. We believed that was grossly unfair so we decided to investigate if EA was breaching any laws by the way they treated her. We discovered that the Australian Consumer Laws may have been breached in Pooja’s case and we made a formal complaint to Engineers Australia on behalf of Pooja outlining what we believed these breaches were. Our office has so far received no reply and no acknowledgment.
We know there are hundreds of students who feel EA has treated them unfairly by placing a similar one year ban against re-applying for CDR Skill Assessment as an Engineer. Further steps are now in place to lodge complaints to the NSW Department of Fair Trading and Australian The Human Rights Commission.
Watch This Space for more details. Engineers Australia was invited to make a comment on Pooja’s story going public today but they made no reply.