The Temporary Graduate Subclass 485 visa allows international student graduates to remain in Australia temporarily at the end of their studies, for a period of between 18 months and 4 years (depending on which stream they apply under). It provides unrestricted work and study rights, which can be very beneficial for applicants who are planning to apply for a permanent residence visa in the future. You can use the time you have as a Temporary Graduate visa holder to gain skilled work experience in your nominated occupation, which is often an important aspect of qualifying for a skilled visa.
To qualify for employer sponsored and nominated skilled visas, for example, you will need to demonstrate a specified minimum period of skilled employment. For independent and state sponsored skilled visas, work experience forms a part of the points test. You must achieve a specified minimum pass mark to be eligible for this class of visa and can improve your chances of a successful application outcome by achieving above this base line score. Your nominating state or territory government may also prescribe minimum work experience criteria as a nomination requirement. In this way, skilled employment experience can be a crucial element of a future application for a skilled visa.
You can also use the time on a Gradate visa to work on other aspects relevant to a future visa application, such as preparing for and sitting an English language test or completing further study to gain an additional qualification. The advantage of the Graduate visa is that it provides you with the opportunity to spend your time as you wish, as you are not bound by any specific obligations or restrictions that normally apply to other visa classes (for example, student visa holders must complete their course of study; employer sponsored visa holders must work in their nominated position on a full-time basis only for their nominating employer, etc.).
If you are considering applying for a graduate visa, it is very important that you are fully informed regarding your eligibility for visa grant, and the documentary evidence requirements that apply. Making a mistake on your application or failing to provide all required documents at time of lodgement can have serious ramifications. Processing of your application may be delayed if the Department request further information from you. Or it can automatically refuse your application (it has no obligation to follow up with you if you have not provided all required documents). If this is the case, you may not have the option to re-apply for the graduate visa (as it is subject to a limited timeframe for when you must apply by, linked to the date of completion of your studies). You have a limited period in which you must apply and must do so correctly.
It is therefore vital that you get it right the first time, and that you lodge a complete and correct application with all required documents attached (and that are in the correct form). To help you to prepare your application correctly and to avoid some of the problems that commonly arise for Graduate visa applicants, in this article we provide the top 5 tips for lodging a Graduate visa. We also outline how to make the best use of your time on a Graduate visa, to help you to prepare for a future permanent residence visa application.
Top 5 Temporary Graduate Visa Tips
Here are our top 5 tips for applying for a Graduate visa, to help you to avoid some of the more common mistakes encountered by applicants and to prevent the risk of issues arising with your own application.
Tip 1: Select the correct Graduate Visa stream
When lodging an application for a Graduate visa, you must select from one of the following streams:
- Graduate Work stream; or
- Post-Study Work stream.
Different eligibility criteria and documentary requirements apply to each of the above streams, and it is important that you confirm this information and how it applies to your personal situation before you lodge your application. Otherwise, you risk having your application refused. Selecting the incorrect stream, or not providing documents required for the particular stream for which you are applying, can lessen your chances of a successful result.
The key requirements that you will need to satisfy to qualify for the Graduate Work stream are listed below:
- You must nominate an occupation on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL);
- You must have a positive skills assessment for your nominated occupation (to be assessed by a specified skills assessing authority). This means that your skills have been assessed as being suitable to perform your nominated occupation in Australia; and
- You must meet the Australian Study Requirement within 6 months of lodging your Graduate Visa application.
Acceptable qualifications for the Graduate Work stream range from a trade qualification through to diploma and degree level. In comparison, as you will see from the discussion below, the Post-Study Work stream requires as a minimum completion of a higher education degree.
If your application is successful, you will be granted a Graduate Visa which will be valid for 18 months.
The Post-Study Work stream is designed for students who have completed a higher education degree in Australia. Although a higher minimum qualification level is required to qualify for this stream, there is no restriction placed on your area of study, as with the Graduate Work stream.
To qualify for the Post-Study Work stream, key requirements include the following:
- You must have must have applied for, and been granted, your first student visa to Australia on or after 5 November 2011;
- You must have completed an eligible qualification, which is awarded by an Australian education provider registered under the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Course for Overseas Students (CRICOS). The education provider must offer courses at a minimum degree level; and
- You must meet the Australian Study Requirement within 6 months of lodging your Graduate Visa application.
If your application is successful, you will be granted a Graduate Visa which will be valid for a period of between 2 and 4 years, depending on your qualification.
The Post-Study Work stream may be a more attractive option compared with the Graduate Work stream, based on the following factors:
- The visa will be valid for between 2 and 4 years (depending on your qualification), rather than the 18-month visa term for the Graduate Work stream;
- No skills assessment is required; and
- There is no requirement to nominate an occupation from a Skilled Occupation List, meaning your area of study will not impact on your eligibility to apply.
It is important that you check your eligibility for each of the above streams and confirm which one you qualify for when lodging your application. You also need to check the documents required for your selected stream and ensure that you provide these at time of lodgement. Be aware that we have referred to several terms above when discussing the graduate visa streams, many of which are defined in the migration provisions. It is vital for a successful result that you are fully informed about what each of these terms means and how they apply to you.
Tip 2: Apply by the lodgement deadline
There are several key dates that form a key part of the Graduate Visa application and calculating these correctly is vital to achieving a successful result. These dates affect both the valid application lodgement and grant criteria for the Graduate visa.
To lodge a valid application for a Graduate visa, you must apply within 6 months of holding an eligible student visa. If you fail to do so, your application will be deemed to be invalid. This may result in quite serious implications for you as, by that stage, you may no longer be eligible to re-apply for the Graduate Visa. In such a case, you would be required to re-assess your visa options and you may need to depart Australia if no further visa options exist for you at that time.
In addition to the valid application requirements, you must also lodge your application within 6 months of completing your qualification. This aspect forms a part of the Australian Study Requirement, which you will need to satisfy to qualify for visa grant.
The completion date of your course is the date on which your final course or exam results are published. It is not the date when you graduate, which often occurs a number of months after course completion.
To maximise your chances of a successful result, ensure that you are fully informed about these dates and how they apply to your individual circumstances. Lodging your application past any relevant dates that apply will either lead to an invalid application, or a visa refusal, both of which may have serious implications for any further visa options that you have and for your future prospects.
Tip 3: Provide all required documents at time of lodgement
You must attach all required documents to your application on the same day as when you submit your application. Be aware that some documents must be provided at lodgement date to be eligible for visa grant. These are called ‘time of application’ visa grant requirements (as opposed to ‘time of decision’ requirements). You cannot supply these documents at a later date. In such cases, missing and/or incorrect documents will result in an automatic refusal of your application.
Some of the key documents required to be provided at time of application include:
- Evidence that you and all your accompanying family members aged 16 or over have applied for an Australian Federal Police (AFP) check within 12 months of lodging your Graduate Visa application. You must provide an AFP receipt number in your application form and you should also attach your request for an AFP check and accompanying payment receipt to your visa application.
- Evidence that you and all your dependents have made adequate arrangements for health insurance in Australia in accordance with visa grant requirements.
- Evidence that you have satisfied the English language requirement, either by way of a specified passport or English test results (the test must have been completed within 3 years of application lodgement).
- Evidence that you have applied for a skills assessment (if lodging your application under the Graduate Work stream.
Ensure that you confirm all documents that must be provided with your application (as they apply to your individual circumstances and the stream under which you apply) and attach them to your application at time of lodgement. By doing so, you avoid the risk of a visa refusal.
Tip 4: Confirm that you meet the Australian Study Requirement before lodging your application
The Australian study requirement must be met if you apply for either the Graduate Work or Post-Study Work stream. This is a defined term in the migration provisions and you must first confirm whether you comply before lodging your application. Failing to meet this requirement will lead to a visa refusal.
To meet the Australian study requirement, you must have successfully completed a Degree, Diploma or Trade Qualification (can be more than one) in Australia. The course/s must be:
- CRICOS registered;
- Completed over at least 16 calendar months whilst you were physically present in Australia;
- Completed over at least 2 academic years study;
- Conducted in English; and
- Completed whilst you held a visa which permitted study (e.g. a Student Visa).
Each of the above are specifically defined terms for visa application purposes, and we recommend that you confirm this information as part of assessing your eligibility before applying for a graduate visa.
One aspect of the above definition which may cause some applicants’ confusion is the ‘2 years of academic study’ requirement. To meet this, the standard duration of your course must be for a minimum period of 92 weeks (as registered with CRICOS).
You can check the registration details of your course/s at the following link:
Things can get more complex if you have completed more than one relevant course of study, or if you have received course credits for units previously completed. If this applies to you, it is important to check how these provisions apply to your individual circumstances so that you calculate it correctly.
Tip 5: Confirm eligible family members who can be included in your application before applying
You can include certain family members as dependents on your graduate visa which will enable them to accompany you to Australia. The migration provisions provide specific definitions of family members who can be included, and it is important that you confirm this information before including them in your application.
You can add the following members of your family as dependent applicants on your Graduate Visa:
- Your spouse (if you are married) or your de facto partner;
- Your child or step-child; and
- Your spouse or de facto partner’s child or step-child.
These are defined terms in the migration provisions, which should be confirmed when assessing your dependent’s eligibility to apply. Children and step-children aged 18 years and over are also subject to additional requirements to qualify.
Evidence of your family relationships must accompany your visa application. Make sure you confirm the documentary requirements as they apply to you and submit all relevant documents at time of lodgement of your application. This will reduce the chances of processing delays or a potential refusal.
How to spend your time on a graduate visa wisely
The Graduate Visa provides you with a great opportunity to help you to prepare for lodgement of a future permanent residence visa application, particularly a skilled visa, as it allows you to remain in Australia at the end of your course with essentially no obligations or restrictions on what you can and can’t do. You can work and study as you wish and travel in and out of Australia as many times as you like.
Here are our tips for making the most of your Graduate visa:
- Work on improving your English and prepare for your English language test– if you apply for a points-based skilled visa, you must attain Competent English as a minimum to apply. You can also attain extra points for achieving Proficient or Superior Some States and Territories also require a higher English competency to qualify for a State Sponsored nomination. Separate English language requirements apply to the employer sponsored and nominated visas classes. Either way, English language will form a part of eligibility requirements for all skilled visas.
- Study in Australia – Additional points are awarded for points based skilled visas if you complete a specified qualification in Australia (can be a Trade and Diploma through to a Masters Degree). If applying for an employer sponsored or nominated visa, minimum qualifications requirements may also apply.
- Gain employment experience in your nominated occupation (at the required skill level) – this will help you to achieve additional points if applying for a points-based skilled visa. Work experience completed in Australia will grant you higher points compared with overseas experience. Some States and Territories also require a specified minimum amount of employment experience to qualify for a State Sponsored nomination. Minimum work experience requirements also apply to employer sponsored or nominated visas.
- Complete a specified qualification as a translator or interpreter that is accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI). This can add points to your points score.
- Your partner can add extra points to your points score if they meet specified criteria, based on their age, skilled occupation and English competency level. They will also require a Skills Assessment. Therefore, they can also use the time as a Graduate dependent visa holder to help prepare these aspects for a future skilled visa application
- Relocate to a regional area – living and working in a specified regional area of Australia for a prescribed period can help you to qualify for a State Sponsored skilled visa.
In conclusion, we note that the above discussion provides an overview of the top 5 tips for lodging a Graduate visa and how to make the best use of your time on a Graduate visa, to help you to prepare for a future visa application. Australia’s migrations laws are complex, and each case is different. We recommend that you seek professional advice before you proceed with applying for a graduate visa, as being fully informed about the process and requirements that apply will give you the best chance of achieving a successful outcome on your application. You will also note that several terms mentioned in the above article are defined in the migration provisions. It is vital to have a good understanding of these terms and how they apply in practice. Detailed advice about these is beyond the scope of this article and we would therefore recommend that you seek further information in this regard.
For up to date advice on the graduate visa process and requirements, and how to avoid a refusal, book your confidential consultation with a migration agent in Adelaide. PAX Migration Australia is a leading immigration advice service based in Adelaide, and we aren’t expensive! Just ask us!