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The basics
Australia: Visa Guides

How to apply for a post-study visa in Australia

If you want to live and work in Australia after you have graduated you will need a post-study work visa. We explain exactly how to go about this.

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One of the key components in deciding which country to study in is whether you can remain after your student visa expires. In the case of Australia, well known for its high quality of living and fantastic career options, it’s hardly surprising that many international students want to stay and enjoy the lifestyle for a few more years. We explore post-study visa options in Australia and the application process.

 

The Australian temporary graduate visa (subclass 485)

 

Australia values its graduates and wants to keep talent. The temporary graduate visa provides a great route for international students to live and work in the country after they graduate. Applicants for the temporary graduate visa are divided into two ‘streams’:

 

  • the graduate work stream; and
  • the post-study work stream.

 

We go into more detail on each of these below.

 

Who can apply?

You can apply for an Australian temporary graduate visa if you have recently graduated with a degree, diploma, or trade qualification from an Australian institution, if you:

 

  • are under 50 years old
  • meet the Australian study requirement
  • can speak and understand English to CEFR level B2 (or equivalent)
  • hold an Australian student visa OR have held one in the last six months and currently have a bridging (category A or B) or a substantive visa.

 

The graduate work stream, and the post-study work stream each have additional eligibility requirements. You must decide which stream is right for you. Make sure you choose carefully, because once you have chosen a stream, it cannot be changed.

 

New Zealand citizens should not apply for a temporary graduate visa. If you have a passport, you will automatically qualify for a special category visa allowing you to visit, work and study in Australia.

 

Graduate work stream

 

The graduate work stream is designed for international students with skills and qualifications directly related to a profession listed on the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). You will need to nominate this profession on your application form.

 

The MLTSSL changes depending on the needs of the Australian economy. Even if you do not see your profession there now, it’s worth continuing to check again.

 

If your graduate work stream visa is granted, you must work in the profession you have nominated.

 

Who can apply?

To be eligible for a graduate work stream visa, you must:

  • have a degree, diploma, or trade qualification relevant to an occupation on the MLTSSL
  • have applied for a skills assessment in your chosen occupation.

 

Skills assessment

When you have nominated your profession, you will need to be assessed by a relevant approved assessment authority to show that your skills are suitable.

 

It’s your responsibility to arrange the skills assessment. It’s best to do this in advance of applying for your visa, as each authority has different procedures, deadlines, and charges.

 

Your skills assessment must date within (no later than) the last three years and must not have expired.

 

How long can I stay? 

A graduate work stream visa usually allows you to stay in Australia for up to 18 months. As of December 2021, this has been temporarily increased to 24 months.

 

If you are a Hong Kong or British National Overseas passport holder, you may stay in Australia for up to five years.

 

You cannot extend a graduate work stream visa, but you may be eligible to apply for a different visa to remain in Australia. We have more information about this at the end of this article.

 

Post-study work stream

 

The post-study work stream is designed for international students who have recently graduated with a degree from an Australian education provider.

 

Who can apply?

To be eligible for a post-study work stream visa you must:

 

  • have applied for and been granted your first student visa on or after 5th November 2011
  • have held an Australian student visa in the last six months.

 

How long can I stay? 

Depending on the length of your qualification, most post-study work stream visa holders can stay in Australia for between two and four years. The table below gives more detail.

 

Degree type

Length of visa

Bachelor’s degree

Two years

Master’s degree

Three years

Doctoral degree

Four years

Hong Kong and British National Overseas passport holders with a degree at any level

Five years

 

You cannot extend a post-study work stream visa, but you may be eligible/allowed to apply for a second post-study work stream visa or a different work visa.

 

Discover the top five graduate careers in Australia.

 

What rules are there?

As a temporary graduate visa holder in either stream, you will be able to:

 

  • work
  • look for work
  • study
  • bring your family members with you
  • leave and return to Australia freely.

 

A temporary graduate visa does not allow you to:

 

  • claim any social security (government) payments.

 

You must purchase and maintain adequate health insurance for the duration of your time in Australia.

 

Be aware that every visa is unique. Visas are given on a case-by-case basis. Yours may include other conditions depending on your circumstances.

 

When to apply

You must apply for your Australian temporary graduate visa:

 

  • before your existing visa expires
  • within six months of completing your degree (or relevant qualification).

 

How much does it cost?

An Australian temporary graduate visa costs AUD1,680. Depending on what other documents you need to supply, you may also have to pay additional fees. Remember, you will need to be able to afford to support yourself while you’re in Australia. Don’t forget to include costs like rent, bills, health insurance and travel costs into your budget.

 

You may find our article on the cost of living in Australia helpful when budgeting.

 

What documents do you need?

When you apply for your Australian temporary graduate visa, you will need:

  • your passport (or another valid travel document)
  • a completion letter from your education provider stating their CRICOS (Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students) code and the start and end dates of your course
  • a certified copy of your course transcripts
  • evidence you have obtained adequate health insurance
  • evidence you have applied for an Australian Federal Police check.

 

You might also be asked to provide:

 

  • evidence of your level of English (results from an English language exam approved by the Australian government)
  • skills assessment documents (graduate work stream only).

 

Completing your application

You will need to complete your application form online. Make sure you have your credit or debit card ready to pay the fees associated with your application. Don’t forget that you can make your application for an Australian temporary graduate visa online.

 

After you apply

You will normally receive a decision about your temporary graduate visa application within (no later than) eight to 12 months. Generally, the post-study work stream applications are processed faster than the graduate work stream.

 

If you want to travel outside of Australia while you wait for your decision, you must inform the Department of Home Affairs first.

 

What other visas are there?

 

Do you want to know more about some of the other Australian work visas available? Our table below details a few. You might decide one of these is better for you than a temporary graduate visa. Or, you might choose to switch to one of these after your temporary graduate visa expires. Whatever the case, it’s always a good idea to fully understand your options.

 

Visa type

Eligible applicants

Length

Second post-study work stream visa

Holders of a first post-study work stream visa living in an eligible region of Australia.

One to two years

Skilled-recognised graduate visa

Recent engineering graduates under 31 years old who want to live, work and study in Australia.

18 months

Temporary skill shortage visa

Suitably skilled workers in jobs which cannot be filled by an Australian resident.

Four years

Working holiday visa

18–30-year-olds who want an extended holiday in Australia and want to work to fund the trip.

One year

 

Find out more about the range of work visas available in Australia.

 

Don’t forget!

Check your visa dates and conditions when you receive it – these will tell you what you can and cannot do when you are in Australia. If you think there has been a mistake on your visa, you must inform the Department of Home Affairs using this form as soon as possible.

 

COVID-19

At present, Australia is only accepting visitors who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Find out more about the rules related to COVID-19 and if they might affect your post-study visa options.

 

Remember that you can continue your research by exploring universities in Australia and using our course matcher tool to find the ideal degree.  

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