485 (Temporary Graduate) visa changes and concessions

Related: 485 visa COVID-19 replacement stream

The new 485 visa mean:

Full details have not been released yet – however see proposed eligibility criteria below:

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • currently hold, or have held a Temporary Graduate visa that expired on or after 1 February 2020; and
  • have been outside Australia at any time between 1 February 2020 and 1 December 2021.

Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holders who have been unable to travel to Australia as a result of COVID-19 international border restrictions will be able to apply for a replacement visa. This will allow current and former Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holders whose visas expired on or after 1 February 2020 to re-apply for a new subclass 485 visa of the same duration as their original visa.

  • Additionally, the Morrison Government will increase the length of stay on the Temporary Graduate visa from two to three years for Masters by coursework graduates, matching that of Masters by reseach graduates. Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector graduates will also receive a two year Temporary Graduate visa (increase from 18 to 24 months).
  • The new visa settings will also extend existing measures for students and temporary graduates to recognise time spent offshore studying online to count towards qualifying for a temporary graduate visa.
  • These changes to Temporary Graduate visa stay periods will be implemented from 1 December 2021, and the removal of skilled occupation list requirements from 1 July 2022.

Note: The 12 months COVID concession was only for those students who were both outside Australia between 1 February 2020 and 19 September 2020 and who were also prevented from lodging a subclass 485 visa within 6 months of course completion because there was no offshore lodgement facility.  Regulations and systems changes occurred on 19 September 2020 making offshore lodgement possible.  This means that after this date applicants must lodge within 6 months of meeting the ASR (Australian Study Requirement).  For example a person who was offshore during the specifed period and who completed their course on 1 January 2021 had until 1 July 2021 to make their application.

Note: COVID concessions do not apply to second 485 visa holders.

The new COVID-19 Concessions for Subclass 485 (TR) are to ensure applicants are not disadvantaged by circumstances beyond their control, including border closures, restrictions imposed on businesses and the general economic downturn related to COVID-19.

Update: Concessions have been granted to all SC 485 streams, the Graduate Work, the Post Study Work and the Second Post Study Work streams, to allow eligible visa applicants to lodge and be granted their visa while they are outside Australia, if impacted by COVID travel restrictions during the concession period that commenced on 1 February 2020.

Subsequent entrants may also be onshore or offshore for lodgement and grant.

The new changes amend the application requirements and visa criteria for the Subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate) visa, to assist international students, by allowing applications for this post-study visa to be made from outside Australia during a concession period. The amendments also allow the visa to be granted to an applicant who is outside Australia. Prior to this amendment, most applicants were required to be in Australia to apply for the visa and to be granted the visa. The amendments provide former international students with the opportunity to obtain a visa to return to Australia when travel restrictions are lifted. The visa period will run from the date of entry to Australia.

The new changes are:

  • allow applicants to apply for, and be granted, a Subclass 485 visa while outside Australia during a concession period;
  • allow applications to be made outside Australia during a concession period without the usual requirement to have held a student visa within the six month period immediately before making the application; and
  • extend the period to meet the Australian Study Requirement (i.e. the period between completing study and applying for the Subclass 485 visa), from six months to 12 months for applicants prevented from returning to Australia due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The amendments are advantageous for Subclass 485 applicants as they provide flexibility to visa holders adversely affected by the COVID-19 associated travel restrictions. Additionally, the amendments support the international competitiveness of Australia’s international education sector at this critical time.

The desired outcome of these amendments is to ensure that Student visa holders who were eligible to apply for a Subclass 485 visa prior to COVID-19 retain their eligibility for a Subclass 485 visa despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The amendments cater for former international students who intended to apply for Subclass 485 visas in Australia but have not been able to do so because of travel restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A significant number of international students who completed their studies in 2019 have been unable to return to Australia because of travel restrictions. This amendment allows those applications to be made and processed, in anticipation of the easing of travel restrictions. Subclass 485 visas will be granted to allow a period of stay in Australia which commences on the date of first entry, so there will be no disadvantage caused to visa holders if the travel restrictions remain in place for a further period.

The effect of the substituted clause is that the requirement to satisfy the ASR (Australian Study requirement) , within six months immediately before making the Subclass 485 visa application, is qualified so that the requirement can be satisfied within 12 months immediately preceding the application if:

–          the applicant was outside Australia for all or part of the period commencing on 1 February 2020 and ending on 19 September 2020; and

–          the Minister is satisfied that the applicant was unable to apply within six months of satisfying the ASR because of that absence from Australia.

The amendment ensures that applicants who satisfied the ASR in late 2019 or early 2020 are able to satisfy clause 485 visa requirements if they apply from outside Australia from 19 September 2020 and they were affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions. The clause refers to being outside Australia between specified dates (1 February 2020 to 19 September 2020), rather than referring to being outside Australia during a concession period, because the ASR concession does not need to operate in the future.

From 19 September 2020, it is possible to apply for Subclass 485 visas from outside Australia during a concession period . Accordingly, the enforced delay in applying for the Subclass 485 visa, which has occurred during 2020 because of the COVID-19 travel restrictions, will not occur after 19 September 2020. International students who may be affected by ongoing or future travel restrictions will be able to apply for Subclass 485 visas from outside Australia during a concession period, and will be required to do so within six months of satisfying the ASR.

Related:

See the latest 485 visa changes and updates:

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