In December 2019, there are 480,543 student visa holders in Australia, 56% of these are from the Higher Education (HE) sector and 32% are from the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector. 15,264 of these student visa holders are from the Philippines. This is as per the Student visa and Temporary Graduate visa program report published by the Department of Home Affairs on the 31st of December 2019. For the full report, visit https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/research-and-stats/files/student-temporary-grad-program-report-december-2019.pdf
This article intends to provide a general overview of visa options for onshore student visa holders whose visas are expiring soon (if they plan to stay in Australia after their current visa expires). Here are the five options.
- 1. Graduate Visa subclass 485
This is one of the most common substantive visas that students apply for after completing their studies in Australia. There are two streams for this visa. The first is the Graduate Work stream. This is for graduates of courses (CRICOS registered, trade qualification, diploma or degree) that lead to a role on the Medium to Long Term Skills Occupation List (MLTSSL) and has a positive skills assessment of their nominated role.
The second stream is the Port -Study work stream. This is for international students who have completed a Bachelor’s Degree or Master’s Degree or Doctorate (CRICOS registered course in an Australian institution) in any field of study as long as the degree runs for at least two academic years of study and whom have been issued their first student visa on or after the 5th of November 2011. In this stream, the 485 visa will be valid for 2-4 years from the date of grant depending on the highest degree that the student has completed.
The 485 visa lets the visa holder stay, work (no work limitation which means you can work full time), and study in Australia from the visa grant date and while the visa is still valid.
- 2. Permanent Residency visas under the General Skilled Migration Stream (GSM) or the Skilled Work Regional Provisional 491 visa
There are two visa subclasses under the GSM category which includes the 189 Skilled Independent visa and the Skilled Nominated 190 visa. Another option is the new Skilled Work Regional Provisional 491 visa (launched on the 16th of November 2019). You must check the full visa criteria for each subclass to check your eligibility. However, I have enlisted below the common criteria for these visas.
- Your nominated occupation should in the list of occupations relevant to the visa you are applying for.
- Your total migration points should be at least 65 points (including the state sponsorship points if you are applying for the 190 or 491 visa).
- You should be below 45 years old.
- You should have a positive skills assessment on your nominated occupation.
- You have at least Competent English (an English language exam result of at least 6.0 in all bands of IELTS or 50 in all bands of PTE Academic or equivalent)
- 3. Partner Visa subclass 820/801
You can be eligible for this visa if you have a de-facto partner or spouse who is an Australian citizen or an Australian Permanent Resident who is willing to sponsor you. You should also have to satisfy all the criteria for this visa.
- 4. Employer Sponsored Visa
If you have an employer who has offered you a full time job in your nominated occupation, you maybe eligible for any of the following visas: Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) subclass 482, Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) subclass 186 visa Direct Entry stream, or the Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa 494. Each of these visas have different criteria that you should satisfy.
- 5. Student Visa
Unfortunately, if all the other visa options under items 1-4 of this article do not apply to you, then you can go for another student visa (if you want to continue studying in Australia). This means that you will have to enrol in another course of study, satisfy the genuine temporary entrant and the rest of the student visa criteria again.
It is best that you consult a Registered Migration Agent or an Immigration Lawyer to discuss your unique circumstance and to fully understand the pathways available for you based on your objectives.