The new post-study visa rules for international graduates

Publish Date: Feb 03, 2012

More international students will be eligible to work in Australia following an extension to the post-study work visa scheme announced in November, 2011.

Under the new arrangements graduates of a Bachelor, Masters Degree or a PhD from a recognised education provider, will be eligible to work in Australia upon the completion of their course. The new laws will allow graduates who complete their degrees after at least two academic years of study in Australia to access post-study work from 2013. These new arrangements will apply irrespective of the field of study and would not be tied to any particular occupation.

Applicants will still need to meet the existing Australian study requirements for international students, which include an English language requirement of competency, as well observing the health, character and security requirements as well.

Additionally, the changes have extended the new post-study work rules announced by the Federal Government following the Knight Review into student visas, and now allow graduates of an Australian Bachelor degree, a holder of a Masters degree, or a PhD to work in Australia for up to four years following the completion of their course.

International students that do not meet the criteria under the new arrangements, are able to continue to utilise existing visa requirements, which includes the temporary skilled graduate visa, that allows the student to stay in Australia for 18 months on the proviso they are the holders of a qualification in an eligible field of study.

The Government has stated that the changes bring Australia into line with arrangements in other countries and enables education providers to offer a more competitive package to international students, regardless of their field of interest.

An overview of the Knight Review into student visas

In December 2010, the Government appointed Former NSW politician Michael Knight to head up the review of the student visa program.

The review was prompted by concerns that Australia’s third largest export industry had become uncompetitive as a result of the rising Australian dollar, the impact of the global financial crisis, and increased competition from the United States, Canada and New Zealand for the lucrative international student market which generated an income of $16.4 billion in 2010–11.

The Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program 2011 was released in September of that year, with the report recommending 41 changes that should be made in regards to the Australian student visa rules.

Following the review, the Government announced a package of reforms to the visa arrangements with the aim of streamlining the visa process, along with making studying conditions in Australia more attractive to international students. The package will be implemented in two stages with the majority of the changes coming into effect by the second semester of 2012.

The reforms will remove the strict financial conditions for studying in Australia, whilst also improving student work entitlements, reduce visa assessment levels for Chinese and Indian applicants, and allowing for more flexible arrangements for the study of English, and the establishing of a new Education Visa Consultative Committee to provide a forum for ongoing engagement between the Government and the international education sector. The changes are also expected to reduce visa processing times and increase the competitiveness of the university sector.

The Government is confident the reforms to the international student visa legislation will enhance the quality, integrity and competitiveness of Australia’s international education sector, whilst improving the integrity of the student visa program.

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