Post the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic in 2021. Most countries have revised their immigration laws. When the USA, UK, Canada are competing for the most extensive international students and workers, Australia seems to have taken a different path. Australia has always been a sought after destination for students and working professionals. But the recent revisions to their post-study work visa are not very student-friendly. It seems like Australia is not planning on welcoming more international students and workers than it previously had.
Significant changes have been made to the requirements of obtaining a 485 visa. Students mostly use the 485 visas to apply for work post their studies in Australia. There can be a primary and dependent candidate on the same visa who can get a work permit. The disheartening changes to the 485 visa mainly state that dependent candidates on a 485 cannot apply as a primary candidate again. This comes as a shock to the international student community of Australia. If this rule starts from this application session, many students already working in Australia on their spouses 485 will not be eligible for a new permit.
What is an Australian 485 visa?
The 485 is a temporary graduate work visa for international students in Australia. This visa helps students extend their stay in the country and look for local jobs. One must fulfill the essential criteria for 485 because they should be below 50 years of age, have a valid Australian visa, and have completed a relevant course from the country. You can apply three streams: graduate workstream, post-study workstream, second post-study workstream. Criteria and processing time will depend on the stream chosen.
The graduate stream work visa is for professionals seeking to work in Australia in specified fields. This allows foreigners to study and work in the USA temporarily. The duration of stay is up to 18 months, applicable to your direct family as well. People, after completing their Australian education, can apply through the post-study workstream. To be eligible, they must complete any CRICOS registered course. The duration of stay ranges from 2 to 4 years. The cost of application for both is around AUD1,650. But the processing time varies between 4 to 9 months. The third and final option is the second post-study workstream. The duration of stay is between 1 to 2 years, and the application fee is AUD650.
Recent developments regarding the Australian 485 visa
Australia is slowly but steadily opening its borders to immigrants. The Australian Ministry of foreign affairs has announced new changes to the existing 485 visa. This will also impact the applications already under processing. If a candidate was already a secondary applicant on some other 485, they could not apply for another primary candidate. This mainly affects people who have been on their spouse’s visa and wish to extend their stay. The new rule is a rude blow to the already distressed international student and professional’s community. People have voiced their dissatisfaction over this new rule.
Australia has always been a favorite destination for study and work. Therefore, a considerable percentage of international students choose Australia because of its good visa policies and work opportunity. It is the only country that allows you to bring your family on a temporary work visa. Hence the new policy citing that secondary 485 visa holders cannot apply for another one seems shocking. This will severely impact thousands of immigrants on the 485 and their dependents. Previously dependent people on their family member’s visa could apply for another one as the primary applicant. This rule stands canceled as of now.
The rule has changed plans for many couples. Most of them have just completed their studies as a dependent on their spouses 485. Many have already applied for a 485 as the main applicant, but their application will probably get denied with the new rule. In the middle of the pandemic, this has caused immense stress for immigrants whose 485 is just about to expire. They can no longer extend their stay in Australia by applying for another post-work visa. Even Indians who have been working in Australia on the 485 have complained about the new regulations.
At a time like this, the Australian government should have focused on easing immigration laws. Instead, it drives away prospective students and professionals looking to settle in Australia to other countries like Canada and the USA. Canada has already announced that it plans on large scale immigration of students from across the globe over the next few years. Under the Biden administration and his pro-immigration policies, the United States will emerge as an attractive choice. However, the stringent 485 visa changes have come quite abruptly. People are still waiting on proper clarification about the new policy.
Further changes to visa-related policies in Australia
Earlier in 2020 federal government of Australia announced that international students studying online from abroad but currently enrolled in physical classes at Australian universities would be eligible for a work permit after studies. This is good news as most students are stuck back at home due to travel restrictions and are still not allowed into campus. The policy was aimed at maintaining Australia’s position among the top countries with rush of international students. The next change, which came most recently regarding 485 visa holders, was not so good. Most graduates and postgraduates apply for 485 work visas once they have completed their minimum of 16 months. Some of these students are already secondary applicants on a spouse visa. They will no longer be able to apply for a separate 485 to extend their stay. This means people whose 485 are about to expire must leave the country immediately. People planning to study or work in Australia should consider these new regulations as the most recent change is not very much in favor of student interests.