KATHMANDU, April 3: Thousands of Nepali students in Australia are likely to be affected as the country's Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday suggested the internationals students to go back to their home countries if they are unable to stay there owing to the worsening situation amid novel coronavirus outbreak.
Morrison's statement comes at a time when Nepali students are expecting some sort of relief from the Australian government agencies as they have hit hard by the deadly virus.
Morrison said those in Australia who are there under various visa arrangements and cannot support themselves adding "There is the alternative for them to return to their home countries".
"Australia must focus on its citizens and its residents to ensure that we can maximise the economic supports that we have," the ABC news Australia quoted Morrison as saying.
However, he stated international visitors who have critical skills could be the exception.
"For those backpackers in Australia who are nurses or doctors, or have other critical skills that can really help us during this crisis, then there will be opportunities for them," he said.
"But our focus and our priority is on supporting Australians and Australian residents with the economic supports that are available."
Mr Morrison said there still remained a number of people in the country on visitor visas.
International students have no access to the Australian Federal Government's JobSeeker payment and are having to deal with the COVID-19 crisis without the financial safety net available to many Australian citizens and residents, media reports said.
Morrison pointed out it was a requirement for students who come to Australia to be able to support themselves in their first 12 months of their study.
There are more than 500,000 international students in Australia including Nepali, many whom have lost their jobs during the pandemic.