Graduate Visa 485 – What You Must Know About It?

Since its introduction in March 2013, the Graduate Visa 485 has been a hot topic of debate both in Australia and overseas. This article aims to explore what is new about this visa category. 

Please understand that the information below is not legal advice.  

Please contact your country's immigration department or an immigration agency Brisbane if you need further clarification on anything discussed here. 

A new subclass - Graduate Visa 485 

Australia introduced a new graduate-level temporary residence visa on 1 July 2011 called the Graduate Visa (subclass 485). The visa allows non-citizens who have completed studies at an Australian education institution to stay for up to 18 months after their graduation date. It also offers them the opportunity to gain additional skills by working. 

The Graduate Visa 485 is a temporary visa, which means that you can stay in Australia for 18 months from the date you were granted this visa. This period starts when your student visa expires or on a later nominated date if you apply for it. Once you have been granted this visa, if you wish to extend your stay in Australia beyond 18 months, you must apply for a permanent skilled visa (e.g. subclass 186). 

A new path to Australian Permanent Residency If at any point during your Graduate Visa 485 period, did you do any one of the following: 

– gained 24 months of work experience 

– held certain types of offers of employment 

– studied towards a postgraduate research degree 

– studied a Graduate Certificate in Education (if you held a Graduate Certificate in Business or Information Technology, read more below) 

Then you may be eligible for a permanent visa! This new visa is called the Skilled Independent Subclass 189, and it allows graduates to stay in Australia indefinitely. Note that this visa does not require you to find an Australian employer who will provide sponsorship - study for your graduate certificate and look for jobs simultaneously. 

Not all students are eligible for this visa. It is important to note that if you do not meet any of these criteria listed under 'Skills' during your graduate visa 485 stay in Australia, your chances of getting sponsored by an employer become much more complicated. Getting 24 months of work experience in your home country is much easier than getting Australian work experience - so always try to get relevant employment while studying. 

Also, if your degree was one of the following: 

– Bachelor Degree (excluding AQF certificate IV or diploma) 

– Graduate Certificate in Education 

Then you will need to study for a further postgraduate qualification that is at least two years in duration and focus on gaining 24 months of work experience. To give you an idea, this could be done by completing a Master Degree (AQF level 7 qualification), Doctoral Degree (PhD) or Specialist Diploma (AQF level 9). It doesn't matter which type of postgraduate course it is as long as you study towards it simultaneously as working. 

What types of jobs can I get?  

If you can gain 24 months of work experience, there is no limit on what you can do - except for basic employment in Australia, which requires sponsorship (e.g. working as waiters, receptionists etc.). 

If your postgraduate course was one of the following: 

– Master Degree (AQF level 7 qualification) 

– Doctoral Degree (PhD) 

You may also be eligible for a Bridging Open Work visa 495 if you find an employer who will sponsor you while waiting for your new skilled visa to be approved. This gives more flexibility to search for jobs than the Graduate Visa 485. 

If you worked on the Graduate Visa 485, was it worth it? 

The critical thing to remember is that if you entered Australia as a student and then stayed on as a worker, your stay as a worker does not affect your chances of gaining citizenship or permanent residency. Therefore- whether you work for 18 months or 24 months - this time won't count against the ten years of residence required before applying for citizenship. 

Therefore, if you are short of time on your current visa and cannot extend it further, apply for the Graduate Visa 485 first! This will give more flexibility to search for jobs during those extra six months from July 2011 onwards. In addition, it can help reduce unemployment periods without affecting your residence requirement. This can be especially useful when finding a job in areas where you have no connections. 

Even if the Graduate Visa 485 expires before you find a job, don't worry - apply for a Bridging Open Work visa 495 and then apply for the new Skilled Independent Subclass 189 once you have your postgraduate qualification!