485 Visa Extension for Regional International Students

The 485 graduate visa allows international students to live, study and work after they have finished their studies.

From 20 January 2021, holders of Graduate visas (subclass 485) will have the opportunity to apply for a second Graduate visa if they satisfy specific regional requirements.

Subclass 485 has been a “once in a lifetime” visa; However, starting in 2021, graduates of regional educational institutions may be eligible for a second visa.

In order to understand the second graduate visa initiative, it is important to note that there are two streams in the qualified graduate visa program:

  • The Postgraduate work stream
  • The Post-study work stream

The graduate work steam is open to graduates with an eligible qualification, including those from the vocational education and training (VET) sector. Who graduate with skills and qualifications related to an occupation that is considered in demand in the Australian job market, such as indicated. in the corresponding list of occupations.

The post-study work steam is open only to international students who have recently graduated with an eligible higher education degree from an Australian educational institution, regardless of their field of study or occupation.

One year Graduate visa

A one-year postgraduate visa will be granted to applicants who studied their Australian qualification anywhere other than major cities (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) and who, while holding the first postgraduate visa, lived (worked or studied) only in areas that were outside of those cities for at least two years immediately before applying for the second visa.

It will be a condition of the second visa that the holder lives (and works or studies, if applicable) only in a designated regional area, which in practice means areas outside of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. This condition will also apply to all family members of the main holder who are granted a second Subclass 485 visa.

Two year Graduate visa

A two-year postgraduate visa will be granted to applicants who have studied their Australian degree at a regional center or other regional area and who, while holding their first postgraduate degree, lived (worked or studied) only at one regional center or other regional area for at least two years immediately before applying for the second visa.

It will be a condition of the second visa that the holder lives (and works or studies, if applicable) only in a regional center or other regional area. This condition will also apply to all family members of the main holder who are granted a second Subclass 485 visa.

In both cases, the new visa condition imposed on the second 485 subclass will require visa holders to remain in a regional area for the duration of their new visa.

When considering an application for a second graduate visa, applicants may need to be familiar with the definition of “designated regional area,” which includes:

  • Designated cities or major regional centers, including Perth, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Newcastle / Lake Macquarie, Wollongong / Illawarra, Canberra, Geelong, and Hobart.
  • Regional centers or other regional areas, including all other areas of regional Australia, excluding the areas mentioned above and the cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Given this new legislation, a second graduate visa appears to be a great incentive for future international students to study at a regional institution.

Currently, visas issued to primary applicants of the post-study workflow have a visa period of between 2 and 4 years, depending on the Australian qualification completed. Obtaining a second 1-2 year postgraduate visa is sure to provide unique opportunities for visa holders in terms of skills and years of relevant work experience onshore!

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