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International Students beware

Study a course for a career, not for a visa

A few years ago, widespread media coverage brought to life the shocking behaviour of unscrupulous education providers promising international students pathways to permanent residency.

Such education providers encouraged international students to enrol into tertiary qualifications with almost a guarantee of obtaining permanent residency.

The fact is there is no such thing as a guarantee for permanent residency because immigration laws change all the time. The Australian Government constantly shifts the goal post to reflect the government’s objectives with migrant population control. There are many policy-based reasons why such changes occur but the most important thing to remember is that you should not study a course based on the hope of obtaining permanent residency.

Follow your passion, follow your goal, follow that part of you that wants to study something to improve yourself, no matter where you live in the world.

Only certain skilled occupations that are dictated by the Department of Immigration can lead to permanent residency. For example; whilst a student can travel to Australia and complete a Bachelor of Accounting, it is difficult to obtain permanent residency with that qualification alone.

The Australian government devises these lists on the basis of the skilled occupations that are in demand in Australia. Moreover, these lists change annually subsequently increasing the difficulty for an education provider to give accurate and concise advice about a guarantee for permanent residency in either Australia or New Zealand.

What to know about remaining in Australia beyond a student visa

For many individuals, receiving their first visa that entitles them to move to Australia won’t be the only time they seek a visa. While some will choose to depart Australia once their first visa has expired, many others will look to transition to another category.

One of the most important categories, where this consideration might be required, is for those who entered Australia on a student visa and are now looking to move into a graduate subclass after receiving their qualification.

To help, here are answers to three of the most common questions for individuals who find themselves in this position.

Does it matter what qualification has been sought in Australia?

Anyone who has pursued a university qualification in Australia will be eligible to apply for a subclass 485 visa in order to remain in the country following their graduation. Within this subclass, there are two different subclasses which individuals can apply under – either the graduate stream or the post-study work stream.

Individuals should also be aware that they will be required to have graduated from their qualification before moving onto a 485 visa.

What is the difference between the two students’ streams?

The two streams of the 485 visa program will depend on the qualification a person is pursuing. The post-study work stream is for those who have completed a higher education degree from an Australian education provider, regardless of their field of study.

This stream is only available to students who applied for and were granted, their first student visa to Australia on or after 5 November 2011.

The graduate work stream, on the other hand, will only apply to individuals who have completed a qualification in an industry that is on the skilled occupation list. This also means that those studying diplomas and trade qualifications can qualify under this stream.

What other criteria will applicants need to meet?

Eligibility for this program will also depend on a number of further issues that applicants will need to keep in mind. For example, they will need to have studied for two years in Australia, meet minimum English language proficiency standards and already hold an eligible student visa.

Migration Downunder’s advice to all international students is to ensure they speak to a Migration Agent prior to their investments in Australian or New Zealand studies. Whilst advice cannot be provided for legislation that will be present in 3-5 years, we can advise about current legislation, your prospects of obtaining an Australian or New Zealand qualification and what is currently required to obtain permanent residency.

Published Wed 9 January 2019.

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