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Can I Switch From A Student Visa To A Work Visa In Australia?

If you have spent time in Australia studying towards a degree, masters, or PhD, you may now be considering whether you can work once your studies end. As a student visa holder in Australia, you will not have the automatic right to work once your studies come to an end, rather you will be expected to leave the country before your visa expires. If your plan is to stay and work, there are specific visas which you can apply for. In this article, we will explain how the temporary Graduate visa works (subclass 485), the eligibility criteria which apply, the process of applying, and the fees.

Who Is The Temporary Graduate Visa For?

The temporary Graduate visa is divided into two separate streams:

  • The graduate work stream - for international students who have recently graduated with skills and qualifications that are relevant to occupations on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). This visa is typically granted for a period of 18 months.
  • The post-study work stream - for international students who have recently graduated with a degree from an Australian institution, and allows them to live and work in Australia for a fixed period. Holders can remain in Australia for between two and four years depending on their qualifications.

It is also possible to bring your dependants such as your immediate family members with you to Australia on a temporary graduate work visa.

Am I Eligible For A Temporary Graduate Visa?

Meeting the Australian study requirement

Under the graduate work stream and the post-study work stream, you must meet the Australian study requirement. This will be met if you have at least one degree, diploma or trade qualification and the following apply:

  • you undertook a single eligible qualification that required at least two academic years study, or more than one qualification that resulted in a total of at least two academic years study resulting in an eligible qualification
  • your course was a CRICOS-registered course
  • you successfully completed all course requirements
  • your study was in English
  • you completed your course as a result of at least two academic years (92 weeks) study
  • you were physically in Australia for at least 16 calendar months to complete the study
  • you held an Australian study visa that allowed you to study

Meeting the skills and qualification requirement

The graduate work stream requires that applicants satisfy the following requirements:

  • they must nominate one occupation on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and
  • have a degree, diploma or trade qualification closely related to that occupation and
  • be assessed by a relevant assessing authority as having skills suitable for that occupation

As such, applicants must select a shortage occupation which aligns with their degree (or higher qualification), and this must be assessed as suitable by a relevant assessing authority.

The post-study work stream requires that applicants have an eligible degree; either a bachelor degree, bachelor (honours) degree, Masters by coursework degree, Masters (extended) degree, masters by research degree, or doctoral degree.

In addition, applicants for a temporary graduate visa will need to satisfy the English language requirement. This can be met by holding a passport from United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland, or by passing an English proficiency test. This can be either:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) - overall score of at least six with a minimum score of 5 for each of the four parts
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT) – with a total score of at least 64 with a minimum score of four for listening, four for reading, 14 for writing and 14 for speaking
  • Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) - with an overall score of at least 50 with a minimum score of 36 for each of the four parts
  • Occupational English Test (OET) - with at least B for each of the four parts
  • Cambridge C1 Advanced test - at least 169 with a minimum score of at least 154 in each of the four test components

You will also need to meet the health and character requirements, and have a sufficient level of healthcare insurance for your time in Australia.

How Do I Apply For A Temporary Graduate Visa?

There are a number of steps which need to be completed when applying for a temporary graduate visa. Before applying, it is recommended that you arrange any health or language tests you need, and compile all of the supporting documents for your application, including:

  • A completion letter from your education provider, stating the date the course started,

the date you completed the course, and your education provider's CRICOS code

  • evidence that your skills have been assessed as suitable for your nominated occupation by the relevant assessment authority
  • health insurance policy
  • police checks
  • documents relating to your partner and/or dependent children

Once you have the information you need, you can complete your application online or on paper. If your current study visa states ‘No Further Stay’ (condition 8534 or 8503), then you will need to apply for a temporary graduate visa using the paper form, as only this version of the application form can be used to request that this condition be waived (and hence you can stay in Australia while your application is being processed).

You will need to pay an application fee of AUD1, 650, and you can expect a decision within five to six months.

Final Words

If you are planning to work in Australia once you have finished your studies, it is advisable not to wait too long to make your preparations and submit your application. If you need any assistance with your application, or if you are unsure if you are eligible, seek the help of immigration lawyers. They will guide you through the process and review your application prior to submission to ensure it has the best chance of a positive outcome. We wish you every success with starting your new career in Australia.

Related article:

How Can I Get A Working Visa For Australia From The UK?

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