Australia post-study work visa
Australia has announced new targeted measures to help the international student market recover. This includes changes to the Australia post-study work visa. Source: William West/AFP

The Morrison government has announced changes to Australia post-study work visa rights that will provide international students with some flexibility upon returning to Australia.

A joint statement by Education Minister Alan Tudge and Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said changes to the new visa setting will extend efforts to protect the work visa rights of international students and extend the temporary graduate visa from two to three years for master’s by coursework graduates.

Australia post-study work visa: What international students should know 

The new targeted measures to Australia post-study work visa flexibility aims to help the international student market recover rapidly.

The new visa settings mean that 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 visa allows international students to remain in Australia to live, study or work after finishing their studies.

This will allow current and former Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holders whose visas expired on or after Feb. 1, 2020 to re-apply for a new subclass 485 visa of the same duration as their original visa.

The Morrison government will also 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 research graduates. Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector graduates will also receive a two-year Temporary Graduate visa.

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.

Australia post-study work visa

The Morrison government has announced changes to the Australia post-study work visa. Source: Con Chronis/AFP

Measures to help international students affected by border closures 

In speaking about the Morrison government’s targeted measures to support Australia’s international education sector, Tudge said the announcement would accelerate the COVID-19 recovery process for the 2022 academic year. “This will help ensure the rapid return of international students,” he said. “It provides clear incentives for institutions and students and ensures students are not disadvantaged from being prevented from coming to Australia earlier. The extension of the Innovation Grants will help English language providers who have been hit particularly hard by COVID.”

While the latest data (as of August 2021) shows international student enrolments are down 17% overall compared to August 2019, the ELICOS sector has experienced the greatest decline in enrolments at 71% for that same period.

Hawke said changes to visa settings for the international education sector gave students some much-needed reprieve as Australia’s borders were set to reopen. “The changes are targeted to not only support international students but are also a crucial component of our economic recovery and will help us retain and attract skilled workers.”