This article intends to give an overview of available visa options for international students who recently completed their program of study here and would like to stay here either temporarily or permanently.
I will briefly discuss three different visa options, the key eligibility requirements and what it lets you do once you become a holder of each visa type.
Graduate Visa (485)
This is one of the most common substantive visas that students apply for after completing their studies in Australia. In fact, as of the 30th of June 2017, there were 53,582 Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holders in Australia and 19% of student visa holders moved to the 485 visa in the 2016-2017 financial year2.
There are two streams for this visa. The first is the Graduate Workstream. This is for graduates of courses (CRICOS registered, trade qualification, diploma or degree) that lead to a role on the Medium to Long Term Skills Occupation List (MLTSSL) and has a positive skills assessment of their nominated role. For example, a student who finished a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing completed for at least two academic years is eligible to apply for the 485 visa Graduate Work stream with a nominated role as a Registered Nurse.
Another example is a student who completed Certificate III and IV in Commercial Cookery and Diploma of Hospitality completed for at least two academic years of study is eligible to apply for the 485 visa Graduate Work stream with a nominated role as a Chef. In this stream, the 485 visa will be valid for 18 months from the date of grant.
The second stream is the Post-Study work stream. This is for international students who have completed a Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree or Doctorate (CRICOS registered course in an Australian institution) in any field of study as long as the degree runs for at least two academic years of study, who have been issued their first student visa on or after the 5th of November 2011. In this stream, the 485 visa will be valid for 2-4 years from the date of grant depending on the highest degree that the student has completed.
The 485 visa lets the visa holder stay, work (no work limitation which means you can work full time), and study in Australia from the visa grant date and while the visa is still valid.
Internship Visa (407)
The Internship 407 visa has three streams but I will focus on the skills enhancement stream which is the most applicable to recent graduates who have completed their studies in Australia. To be eligible for this visa, the applicant’s nominated role should be in listed under the legislative instrument IMMI/072 (https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2017L00850), should have at least 12 months of study or work experience in the applicant’s field and have at least functional English(at least 4.5 in each band of IELTS or equivalent). Applicants should have a 407 internship sponsor and a 407 nomination application/approval before the 407 visa application can be lodged.
This visa (once granted) allows the visa holder to work (paid or unpaid) as an intern in your nominated role for 12 months.
Examples of roles (from my clientele) who have successfully been granted an internship visa are Registered Nurses (who finished their nurse bridging program) and Cook/Chefs.
Work Visa (457)
Some students get a job offer and their employers are willing to sponsor them on a 457 work visa. Depending on your nominated role and job contract, this visa can last from one year to four years. With the 18th of April 2017 announced changes on the 457 visa, nominated roles that fall under the Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) can only get a maximum of two years 457 visa duration with one opportunity to renew for another two years without an employer-sponsored PR visa pathway. Nominated roles listed under the MLTSSL can get a maximum of four years visa and a pathway to employer-sponsored PR visa.
The 457 visa lets you stay and work in your nominated occupation while your visa is still valid.
PR visa options (via General Skilled Migration or Partner) are also available depending on your circumstance, qualification, work experience, age, and English language capability level. A further student visa is also an option if you would like to continue your studies in Australia.
In conclusion, there are many visa options for graduates to stay in Australia and fulfill whatever objective they have (to work here on a 457, 407, or 485 visa or to stay here permanently or to do further studies).
Please note that the visa options discussed above are meant to give general information and not all the visa eligibility requirements were covered. Should you need a detailed visa eligibility requirements and information on visa application process, it is advised to seek a legal migration advice based on your unique situation.