Many Australian universities and tertiary institutions have an excellent international reputation. Moreover, obtaining educational qualifications in English can improve your future employment prospects in many countries around the world. But what happens after you have finished studying in Australia? What if you don’t want to go back home? Or you’re just not ready to leave Australia yet? The good news is that you may be eligible to apply for a temporary graduate subclass 485 visa.
If you are successfully awarded such a visa, you will be able to extend your stay in Australia for between 18 months and four years, which in turn can increase your chances of being awarded permanent residency in the future. Alternatively, you may be able to consolidate your studies by gaining valuable work experience in Australia before going back home.
Criteria for eligibility
There are several important criteria which must be met to qualify for a skilled graduate visa:
- You must be an international student who has studied for at least 16 months at a recognised Australian educational institution, and received either a degree, a masters or a doctorate as a result.
- You must already be present in Australia when you apply for the visa.
- There is no need to have a job offer in place while your application is pending. Similarly, there is no need for applicants to be offered employment in their field of study, or to be paid a minimum salary (as would be required by skilled workers on a 457 visa).
- Even if you lose your job, you are entitled to stay in Australia for the remainder of your visa period, without being forced to find alternate employment.
- Your dependants who are already in Australia at the time of application will be covered by the visa, and you have the option to apply to bring in family members from overseas once the visa has been granted.
- Applicants must be aged 49 years or younger and meet certain English language skills.
- You must be entitled to health insurance in Australia (either privately or through Medicare).
- It may be necessary to obtain accreditation from a relevant industry body (depending on your skill set) before you are entitled to work in Australia.
The visa application generally takes between one to four months to be finalised. However, in that waiting period, you may be granted a bridging visa so that you can continue living and working in Australia.
The two visa streams
There are two streams under the 485 visa subclass – the graduate work stream and the post-study work stream. If applying under the graduate work stream, you must have graduated from your studies with skills relating to employment listed on the skilled occupations list. You may be granted a stay of up to 18 months.
The post-study work program applies regardless of your field of study, and allows you to stay for up to four years, but your first student visa must not have been before 5 November 2011.
There are many reasons why you would choose to stay in Australia after you have finished your studies – perhaps you want to work towards permanent residency and citizenship, or perhaps you want to build on what you have learned before heading back to your home country. Either way, be certain that you have maximised your chances of being granted a skilled graduate visa by obtaining advice and assistance from a registered migration agent.