As 150,000 international students are currently stuck outside of Australia, significant changes have been made to the 485 visas to help these students post-study. If you are an international student, and find yourself in this situation, then you might want to be aware of the new changes made by the Department of Home Affairs. To understand what these changes are, we’ll begin by briefly understanding the 485 visa so that you are able to determine if this visa is applicable for you or not. Finally we’ll get into extensive discussion about the new changes made.
Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) Visa
If you currently hold a student visa then after the completion of your study you might be eligible for this visa. The subclass 485 is a temporary visa that allows you to reside and work in Australia for 1 to 4 years depending on the stream you are applying under and your qualification. The underlying eligibility conditions that one must meet before they can apply for this visa still mostly remains the same, the few changes that have been made will be discussed later.
To eligible for this visa you need to fulfill the following conditions:
- You cannot be over 50 years old.
- We have already stated that you need to hold a student visa, but it’s important to know that you need to have held that student visa no more than 6 months prior to when you are applying for 485 visa.
- The course that you study has to be CRICOS registered.
- There are three streams under which you can apply for this visa, and while applying for this visa you can apply under only one of the streams.
- There are visa processing fees associated with these visa applications, and the cost varies depending on the stream you are applying under.
- Finally, you have to include all the required and relevant documents as a part of your application.
- Graduate Work stream
- If you graduate with skills and qualifications that are related to certain occupations demanded by the Australian economy, then you may consider applying for this visa.
- Once granted, typically this visa allows you to stay and work in Australia for upto 18 months. Exceptions are made for Hong Kong Passport holders who may be granted a 5-year stay.
- The visa processing fee is AUD 1,680.
- Post-Study Work Stream
- This stream is suitable for students who are graduating with a degree.
- Depending on your qualification, the stay period in this visa is between 2 to 4 years. Again, Hong Kong Passport holders who may be granted a 5-year stay.
- The visa processing fee is AUD 1,680.
- Second Post-Study Work Stream
- If you have graduated from an education institution that’s located in a regional area, then you may be eligible for this stream.
- To be eligible for this stream you already need to be holding a Temporary Graduate visa in the post-study work stream, and if this visa is granted you are able to stay and work in Australia for an additional 1 to 2 years.
- The cost of processing this visa is AUD660.
It must be noted that depending on the streams there are slight differences on the documents required in your application. Therefore, be very cautious while you are applying for this visa, making sure that you are choosing the correct stream. This visa also allows you to bring your family members as dependents, thus you also need to be aware of the documents required for dependents.
If you deem yourself to be eligible for this visa, but are concerned how it affects you given Covid-19 restrictions then you can check the following section. The changes have been made to better help accommodate all the international students studying offshore and onshore.
The New Changes Introduced
- Online study is counted towards your minimum onshore study hours: The Australian Study Requirement has been made more flexible so that students studying online both onshore and offshore are able to apply for this visa. This change is applicable for both new students and existing students. Therefore, even if you are stuck overseas that does not bar you from applying for this visa, however, you must still meet the other underlying criteria for this visa.
- Online study outside Australia is counted from the time of Student visa grant: This means that even if you are offshore you still need to hold a valid student visa before you are able to apply for this visa.
- Flexible Time-frames: As discussed, you need to attach all the required and relevant documents as a part of your application. However, if you are affected by Covid-19 restrictions that are delaying you obtaining any of your required documents (such as: English proficiency certificate, bio-metrics and health check-up) then the Department of Home Affairs will be considerate of your situation. But you still need to attach your booking confirmation on your ImmiAccount to show that you have taken the reasonable steps to book your appointment.
- Student Visa Conditions: Due to Covid-19, you might choose to defer your course. If your deferral is approved by your educational institution, then you will not be held to be in breach of your student visa conditions. In addition to that, if you are working in sectors that allow you to work more than 40 hours per fortnight, that is not a breach of your student visa condition either.
- Notifying the Department of Home Affairs: If you decide to return to your home country or have chosen to defer your study then you do not need to notify the Department of Home Affairs. Also these changes in your circumstances, definitely do not change your student visa, unless your student visa is formally expiring or you have indulged in any questionable activity that may have incriminated you to have led to the cancellation of your visa.
- Financial Difficulties: International students who are in Australia can also avail financial assistance if they are undergoing difficulty. The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment has been introduced for anyone who is required to self-isolate or care for someone with COVID-19. International students are also eligible for this payment. Moreover, you can also seek COVID-19 Disaster Payment if you have been adversely affected by lockdown.
- Concerns regarding getting a 485 visa for the second time: Previously there has been talks regarding limiting the 485 visa as one time visa. This means that if you have previously been granted a 485 as a dependent and now you wish to apply for a 485 visa as the primary applicant then you will not be eligible for it the second time, regardless of you being the primary applicant. However, please be assured that as of yet, that change has not been made. Therefore, even if you have been granted 485 visa previously as a secondary applicant, you are still eligible and able to apply for it as a primary applicant.
- That being said, only the people working and living in regional areas can extend their 485 visa by applying for the Second post-Study work stream, as discussed in the previous section.
- Hold student visa 6 months prior to application rule: One of the requirements to apply for this visa is that one must hold a student visa no more than 6 months prior to that time you are lodging the application. However, if you were outside of Australia between 1 February and 19 September 2020, then you are granted an exception to this rule. If you have held a student visa within the 12 months then you can still apply for this visa.
For more information on the eligibility conditions and the documents required to apply for this visa, it recommended that you check the Department of Home Affairs’ guideline. If you require consultation on personal circumstances or application, you can also reach out to our team at Path Migration.
At Path Migration we have assisted students, both onshore and offshore, get the best outcome from their visa application. If you are looking to eventually transition to permanent residence then it’s very important that you initially choose the most appropriate visa category to help you achieve permanent residence smoothly.
At Path Migration, we have a team of immigration lawyers who specialize in immigration law. The team will provide you with all the in-house resources that will help make your applicant a success. If you have already been refused a visa or have had your visa cancelled then you will also be benefited from your own personalized consultation. If you are unsure whether this visa category applies to you or not, then don’t hesitate to contact us or directly email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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