Studying in Australia
Studying in Australia can provide you with experience, friends, contacts, and unique opportunities that you can carry with you throughout your whole life as well as enriching your future career.
Many international students choose to study in Australia for the following reasons:
- International reputation for academic excellence
- Internationally recognised courses and qualifications
- A relaxed, enjoyable lifestyle
- Cheaper study and living expenses compared to many other countries
- Opportunity to enjoy the diverse landscapes and scenery
- Vibrant, multicultural cities
- Established support networks for international students
We’ve compiled information directly from the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship, some information from employers who are interested in hiring international students upon graduation, as well as some great advice from other international students who have experienced the challenges as well as the many rewards of studying in Australia.
A student visa allows someone to come to Australia on a temporary basis to undertake study at an Australian educational institution. The student visa does not provide any guarantee that the student will be able to obtain a further visa.
Students should not make educational choices on the basis of hoping to achieve a particular migration outcome, as the skilled migration program is designed to change. Skilled migration requirements will change in response to economic circumstances and will continue to change and adapt to Australia’s economic needs. While there can never be any guarantee of permanent residence for any particular student, the skilled migration program provides visa options for overseas graduates, where they can fill labour market demand for their skills.
Temporary work visa for skilled graduates
Graduating international students may be eligible to apply for the subclass 485 Skilled – Graduate visa.
The subclass 485 visa provides overseas graduates with the ability to remain in Australia for a period of 18 months to gain skilled work experience, complete a professional year or to improve their English language skills.
To be eligible, you need to have recently completed an Australian degree, diploma or trade qualification as a result of at least two years’ study. You also need to nominate and have applied for a skills assessment in an occupation on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL). There is no points test for this visa, and there are no restrictions on work or study with this visa.
Professional Year Program
The Professional Year Program (PYP) is specifically designed for Skilled – Graduate (Temporary) visa (subclass 485) holders. The PYP is a 44-week program offered by approved industry providers. It includes workshops, skills training and a professional internship placement.
The PYP is recognised by the Department of Immigration & Citizenship (DIAC) and, on successful completion of the program, participants may be eligible to be awarded GSM points. The PYP is available for IT, engineering and accounting graduates.
Who is this visa for?
This visa is for you if you are an overseas student who:
- is under 50 years
- holds an eligible student visa or has held one in the last six months
- has met the two-year study requirement in the past six months
- nominates an occupation from the Skilled Occupation List
- has applied to have your skills assessed for your nominated skilled occupation
- has competent English.
Further details of other eligibility requirements can be found on DIAC’s website.
Other visas you can apply for if you are currently in Australia are outlined in the GO-2013 International Students book.
- Temporary Business (Long-Stay) visa subclass 457 – this visa is for Australian employers (company/ business) who would like to employ an overseas worker for up to four years to fill a nominated skilled position within their company/business. You generally need to have qualifications/skills and language ability to fill the nominated skilled position within the company/business and, amongst other requirements, be paid a market salary to fill that position.
- Skilled – Regional Sponsored (Provisional) visa subclass 487 – this visa is a three-year temporary visa for overseas students and certain visa holders who are unable to meet the criteria for a permanent skilled visa. You will need to meet minimum eligibility criteria and:
a) be nominated by a state/territory government OR
b) be sponsored by an eligible relative living in a designated area of Australia
c)have a letter of offer from a regionally-based employer.You will receive bonus points for sponsorship.Holders of this visa can apply for a permanent Skilled – Regional visa (see below) once they have lived for two years and worked for one year in a specified regional area of Australia.
- Skilled – Regional (Residence) visa subclass 887 – this is a permanent visa (eligible 487 holders and other provisional visa holders can apply).
You need to have:
a) lived in a regional area for at least two years
b) worked full-time for at least one year AND
c) complied with visa conditions.
- Skilled – Independent (Residence) visa subclass 885 – this is a permanent visa. You will need to meet all minimum eligibility criteria and pass the points test on your own as an independent applicant.
- Skilled – Sponsored (Residence) visa subclass 886 – this is a permanent visa. You will need to meet minimum eligibility criteria, pass the points test and organise sponsorship via an eligible relative or a state or territory government.
I’m unsure of my visa eligibility and need assistance. Where can I go for help?
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) can assist you with providing information about your visa options. You can visit the website at www.immi.gov.au or alternatively visit any DIAC office for more information.
Your university careers service and/or international office should be able to provide assistance to you and refer you to other sources of information and support.
I don’t have permanent residency (PR), but I would like to pursue a career in Australia.
Skilled migration to Australia is a highly selective process. Students should bear in mind that there is no guarantee they will be able to stay in Australia after their studies.
The general skilled migration program is designed to meet the needs of the Australian economy and deliver people with the right skills and attributes that the labour market requires. If you have those desired skills and attributes needed by the Australian economy, there may be visa options for you to remain in Australia upon the conclusion of your work experience. These visas include visas to work in regional areas, sponsored visas and independent skilled visas. You will need to consider whether you can meet the eligibility requirements of the visas available. Further information is available on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship website.
When should I put in my application for a 485 visa? Do I need a letter of offer?
You should lodge your application for a 485 visa after you’ve completed your studies and before your current student visa expires. You need to have completed an Australian degree, diploma or trade qualification, as a result of at least two years’ study, in the six month period before your application is lodged. You do not have to have a letter of offer from an employer.
How long does it take for a 485 visa to be processed?
Visa processing times can vary. For the latest information, you can visit the DIAC website.
ROLE OF REGISTERED MIGRATION AGENTS AND SOME TIPS ON HOW TO CHOOSE A REPUTABLE ONE
Making the decision to apply for residency in another country can be one of the most important life decisions that you will have to make as an international student.
Australian immigration law is complex and it is often difficult and confusing to negotiate Australia’s migration system, which consists of many programs and various temporary and permanent visa options. If you do not feel confident lodging an application or if your case is complex, you may want to engage a registered migration agent to help you in your dealings with DIAC.
In Australia, migration agents must be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (the Office). The Office website has a list of all agents with a valid registration.
A registered migration agent will assist you by explaining the various options open to you, help you prepare your visa application with all the necessary documents and information required by DIAC. When you appoint an agent to act on your behalf, DIAC will do the following:
- Discuss your application with the agent and seek further information from them.
- Send any written communication about your application to your agent (that is, they will become your ‘authorised recipient’).
- Regard any written communication sent to the agent as being received by you.
Using a registered migration agent gives you protection and helps ensure people working as migration agents are aware of current laws and procedures and give correct advice. A migration agent cannot influence the outcome or fast-track the processing of your application or guarantee you a visa.
GCA would like to acknowledge the valuable assistance of the The Department of Immigration and Citizenship for reviewing and editing the content of this page relating to visas, citizenship and permanent residency.
Following is a list of companies who recruit international students either to work in Australia or abroad. This is by no means an exhaustive list and we encourage you to undertake your own research.