You’ve graduated with a degree from an Australian university. What’s next?

Australian PR
Many Australia’s international graduates are facing struggles in gaining permanent residency and pursuing their chosen career paths. Source: AFP

Australia is one of the most sought-after study-abroad destinations for international students, and this has led to many applying for an Australian PR after completing their studies.

The country boasts world-class universities and a high-quality education system. According to the QS World University Rankings 2023, seven Australian Universities have been ranked under the top 100.

This includes The University of Melbourne, Australian National University and The University of Sydney.

Currently, there are 619,371 international students in Australia its 41 universities. Many are drawn here with the hope of staying on after graduating and it’s no surprise why.

An Australian degree can lead to many opportunities — and at the top of this list is the kind of jobs you can get here.

Australian PR

The Sydney Opera House has many stories to tell, from the Korean National Ballet tour to the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra performances. Source: AFP

Why so many international students want to become Australian PRs

Australia’s unemployment rate has consistently remained lower than many other developed countries, and in some regions, it’s even lower than the national average, creating a favourable job market for international graduates.

It’s not just the quantity of jobs available here that’s attracting people from all over the world, but the quality of the jobs available too.

As Australia is known for its strong focus on research and innovation, this makes it a hub for various fields of study.

In August 2023, the country’s top three exports are:

  • Metalliferous ores and metal scrap (45.1 billion Australian dollars)
  • Crude fertilizers and crude minerals (A$37.1b)
  • Coal, coke and briquettes (A$20.2b)
  • Meat and meat preparations (A$15.5b)
  • Vegetables and fruit (A$14.2b)

When you’re not carving a career in the world’s #13 economy (according to GDP data in 2021), there’s plenty of natural beauty and vibrant cities to explore.

The famous Australian lifestyle is famous for a reason.

From the iconic Sydney Opera House to the breathtaking landscapes, like the Great Barrier Reef and the Australian Outback, you’ll find endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. 

Like any other job-hunting process, it’s not a walk in the park.

Challenges remain, especially related to citizenship and visa status, as detailed by Nathan Lee, the founder of Stint, an online community and platform that aims to help international students in Australia find a fulfilling career.

Australian PR

Top universities, incredible nature, vibrant cities, and several oceans are just some of the reasons why many international students choose to study in Australia. Source: AFP

Do you need a visa to study in Australia?

Long story short, like most countries, you need a visa to study in Australia. Applying for a visa to Australia can be quite daunting, especially if you are new to the process.

There are many visa options, each with its own requirements, which can feel overwhelming.

You’ll need to choose the right visa category that matches your purpose, whether studying or working.

The complexity of the Australian visa system can make it challenging to determine which visa is the best fit for your individual circumstances.

The visa application process often involves extensive documentation, and missing even a single requirement can lead to delays or rejection.

You’ll need to gather documents about your identity, financial capacity, health, character, etc. This, on top of the visa application fees and waiting time, can add to the stress. 

So, what visa will be best for you?

Australian visa for international students 

Your bags are packed, and you are ready to embark on your exciting journey to study in Australia for the first time. But before you board that flight, the first important step is getting the right visa. 

For most international students, the most common visa is the Student Visa (Subclass 500). This visa lets you stay in Australia for the duration of your course, and it also allows you to work a certain number of hours per week during your studies. 

The student visa fees start from A$650 per visa application. To apply, you can go through the Australian immigration website or an education agent. However, the latter will come with a fee.

Here’s what you need you will need to prepare to apply for a visa:

  • Letter of offer
  • Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE): A document that will be issued by your education provider that verifies your enrolment in a specific course
  • English language proficiency: Citizenship from an English-speaking country or IELTS/TOEFL  scores.
  • Academic qualifications
  • Health and Character requirements – additional forms required
  • Proof of insurance through Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) 
  • Proof of financial stability – resources to cover return airfare, tuition costs, and a total of A$18,610 per year must be documented. Loans, parent financial history, and bank accounts are considered as evidence.
Australian PR

The Subclass 500 visa will allow you to work a maximum of 48 hours per fortnight. Source: AFP

While the Student Visa allows some work, it’s important to follow the work restrictions, ensuring your primary focus remains on your studies. 

Based on your (subclass 500) visa, you are typically allowed to work a maximum of 48 hours per fortnight during your semester and unlimited hours during study breaks.

Staying in Australia after graduation

The Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485) is an opportunity for international students who have completed their postgraduate studies in Australia.

This visa allows you to remain in the country temporarily after you’ve finished your course to gain valuable work experience and enhance your skills. 

The Subclass 485 visa has two streams: Graduate Work and Post-Study Work streams.

The Graduate Work stream is available to those with qualifications in specific skilled occupations, making it a stepping stone for those looking to launch their careers in Australia.

The Post-Study Work stream is especially beneficial for those who have earned higher education degrees like a master’s or a doctorate, allowing them to stay for an extended period, up to four years, and explore job opportunities in various fields.

The Subclass 485 visa has become increasingly popular among international students in Australia.

In January 2022, the government made a decision to help international students in Australia. They allowed students to work more hours than usual (40 hours per fortnight) to address a shortage of workers in the country. But this changed on June 30.

In July 2023, new rules came about. All international students are now allowed to work up to 48 hours per fortnight. That’s more hours for everyone, no matter when they start their studies.

More good news came with this. Now, once you finish your studies, you can stay and work in Australia longer.

Before, if you had a bachelor’s degree, you could stay for two years after finishing your course. If you had a master’s, it was three years; for PhD students, it was four years.

But since July 1, 2023, you can get an extra two years to work after your studies, especially if you work in regional areas. This means you have more opportunities to gain skills and experience in Australia.

Australian PR

Many international students in Australia hope to stay on and find work in the country. Source: AFP

Australian PR for international students

Obtaining an Australian Permanent Residency (PR) as an international student is a goal many aspire to achieve.

Australian PR offers numerous benefits, including access to healthcare, social security, and the opportunity to live, work, and study anywhere in the country. 

To begin your journey towards an Australian PR, you’ll usually need to choose the right visa pathway.

For many international students, this involves first completing a postgraduate degree in Australia. After your studies, you might be eligible for the Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485), which allows you to work and gain valuable experience in Australia.

Gaining local work experience is often a critical step in your Australian PR journey, as it can boost your points when applying for skilled migration visas.

The General Skilled Migration (GSM) programme is a popular way for international students to secure Australian PR. You’ll need to meet the points-based system, which assesses factors like your age, qualifications, work experience, and English language proficiency to qualify. 

Australia welcomes thousands of international students each year into its skilled migration programme, leading to successful PR applications.

Your Australian education can be a significant advantage when applying for PR, as the country values the skills and knowledge gained from its institutions. 

Remember that while it may require effort and patience, Australian PR is a real possibility for international students who have studied in the country and wish to call Australia their permanent home.

Australian PR

Many international graduates are stuck in “visa limbo,” with less than one-third of temporary graduate visa-holders transitioning to permanent residency. Source: AFP

Is it easy to get an Australian PR?

While many dream of getting an Australian PR, it isn’t always easy.

In fact, a recent report from the Grattan Institute has shed light on the challenges international graduates face in Australia when it comes to gaining a PR and pursuing their chosen careers.

The report emphasises that encouraging international graduates to remain in Australia and struggle to secure permanent residency doesn’t benefit anyone. 

It points out that only about half of international students in Australia manage to find full-time employment, and many end up in low-skilled jobs with low earnings. 

Less than one-third of temporary graduate visa holders transition to permanent residency when their visas expire, a significant drop from two-thirds in 2014. 

It was found that some graduates return to further studies to extend their stay in Australia.

As a result, the number of temporary graduate visa-holders is expected to double by 2030, potentially leaving more graduates in what is called “visa limbo.”

To avoid this, a number of measures to address these challenges, including reducing the duration of post-study work visas, raising English language requirements, and limiting temporary graduate visas to younger individuals, have been suggested. 

Grattan Institute also suggests creating a new “Exceptionally Talented Graduate” visa and providing more support for international graduates pursuing their careers in Australia.