So, you’re an international student who is about to graduate. Graduating is a great accomplishment and you should be very proud of yourself and your achievement.
Let’s face it, being an international student has more challenges than just making it through your course. On top of all the financial pressure, homesickness, adjusting to a new culture, you’ve seen so many stories in the news about possible changes to immigration that could affect your future chances of staying in Australia after graduation.
Like many other students, the chances are that you are trying to work out the best way to stay in Australia permanently – you might have been thinking about this since before you even arrived on your first student visa.
Planning ahead will increase your chances of successfully moving from holding a student visa to holding a temporary graduate visa on to permanent residency.
Staying in Australia after you graduate is a chance to gain valuable experience in the commercial or professional environment you have studied so hard to work in. Despite what you might have seen in the news, or read online, the Australian government and community welcomes international students to find new opportunities in each state and to become a permanent part of our diverse society.
In 2008, the Australian government introduced the Temporary Graduate 485 visa. The 485 visa was designed to allow international students who had graduated from universities and colleges to remain in Australia to work and to improve English language skills after graduation. You may be eligible to apply for a temporary graduate visa within 6 months of completing your studies, allowing you to stay in Australia to live and work. Students with post-graduate degrees are especially well-positioned to take advantage of this and other new opportunities.
Visa subclass 485, as it is sometimes called, is the most common choice for the majority of international students who are looking for a way to extend their stay in Australia so that they can qualify for permanent residency when they are ready.
In many cases, applying for a temporary graduate visa is the safest option for any international student who holds a suitable qualification and can meet the mandatory 2-year Australian study requirement.
The temporary graduate visa isn’t a permanent visa, but it does provide a safe way to work and live in Australia without any work restrictions. During the time you hold a graduate visa, you have extra time to prepare everything you might need for your permanent residency application.
When should you begin planning?
As immigration experts, we advise that it is best to start planning and preparing for your transition from student to graduate to permanent resident as soon as possible. Your options will be affected by your qualifications, meeting English language requirements, your age and the location where and when you studied.
It’s a good idea to apply for a Temporary Graduate visa as soon as you can after you have:
- Finished your course and received your Letter of Completion from your university or college
- Prepared your course transcripts to show you can meet the Australian study requirements
- Successfully passed a language test to show you meet the Temporary Graduate 485 visa English requirements
- Seen an approved medical officer and completed a Temporary Graduate 485 visa health check
- Received your national police certificates for Australia, your home country and any other country you have spent more than 1 year in since your sixteenth birthday
- Received a positive Skills Assessment if you are applying under the Graduate Work stream.
Other permanent resident options for graduates?
Besides the Temporary Graduate visa pathway, there are other options for staying in Australia after graduation, such as:
– General Skilled Migration
The General Skilled Migration program is an Australian work visa program for skilled migrants. If you are under 45, have good English language skills have suitable qualifications and experience you could be eligible for a visa through this program.
– Partner Visas
Perhaps you met your partner or got married to an Australian citizen or permanent resident while you were studying. If your partner is willing to sponsor you, you could apply for permanent residence once you can meet specific conditions to prove your relationship is genuine.
An advantage of applying for a partner visa, while you are on your student visa in Australia is that you will be given a bridging visa with no work or study restrictions.
– Temporary work visa
Temporary work visas can be a pathway to permanent residence depending on your qualifications, work experience, age and language ability. It is always best to discuss these options with an immigration expert to determine the possibilities of going down this long and stressful pathway.