International students in Australia granted 2 additional years of post-study work rights

Expat news
  • international students
Published on 2023-03-03 at 14:00
Starting on July 1, 2023, international graduates holding eligible qualifications will receive an extended two-year post-study work period, according to an announcement made by the Australian government. The limit on working hours for international students will also be raised from 40 hours per fortnight to 48 hours per fortnight beginning on the same date.

What is changing for international students?

Individuals holding a Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa who complete their studies in a specific field will be eligible for an extension of post-study work rights in Australia. As a result, the duration of stay for visa holders will increase as outlined below:

  • Holders of select bachelor's degrees will be able to stay for four years instead of two years.
  • Holders of select master's degrees will be able to stay for five years instead of three years.
  • Holders of all doctoral qualifications will be able to stay for six years instead of four years.

Moreover, this modification will be implemented in addition to the current extra years that students can obtain on their visas if they live, study, and work in regional areas.

Who is eligible for extended post-study work rights?

The extended post-study work rights will be granted to graduates in high-demand industries, aimed at addressing the ongoing skills shortage in Australia. This shortage has almost doubled from 2021-2022 and is anticipated to continue into 2023.

For a complete list of eligible qualifications and occupations, check the website of the Australian Department of Education. Below are some of them:

  • Registered nurses in various specializations, such as aged care, disability care, medical practice, mental health, etc.
  • Engineers in various specializations such as software, structural, civil, electrical, environmental, etc.
  • Web and systems specialists in various specializations, including web developers, systems analysts, cyber security analysts, cyber security architects, etc.
  • Teachers in various specializations such as primary school, secondary school, special needs, vocational education, etc.
  • Pharmacists in various specializations, such as hospitals and retail.
  • Surgeons in various specializations such as general, cardiothoracic, neurosurgeon, etc.
  • Dental professionals in various specializations such as dental hygienist and dental therapist.

Please keep in mind that the list of eligible qualifications and occupations is subject to change. The final complete list will be released before the implementation date of July 1 2023.

In an official statement, Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil stated that "allowing students who acquire education in Australia to stay longer and contribute to our economy is beneficial for all of us. We are targeting the most required skills in Australia, including healthcare, education, engineering, and agriculture."

How to apply for the post-study work rights extension?

If you meet the eligibility requirements above and have successfully completed a qualification from the approved list, and possess a valid Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) on or after July 1 2023, your visa will be automatically extended by two years.

However, if your Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) expires before July 1, 2023, or you are eligible for the two-year Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Events visa (COVID-19 Pandemic event), you will be required to apply for the Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa through the Department of Home Affairs.

New caps for work hours for international students announced

Along with the announcement of the extension of post-study work hours, the Australian government has also introduced a change to permissible work hours for international students that will come into effect on July 1, 2023. The cap for working hours for international students will be increased from 40 hours to 48 hours per fortnight.

The goal of the new initiative is to maintain a balance between enabling international students to engage entirely in their primary objective, i.e., studying in Australia, and granting them an opportunity to financially support themselves if required and obtain job exposure within the country.

From July 2023, both present and new international students will be held accountable for the 48-hour-per-fortnight (24 hours per week) limit.

Post-study work rights extended: What are the implications?

The CEO of Universities Australia, Catriona Jackson, expressed her approval of the new initiatives stating that "extending post-study work rights sends a positive message to international students who wish to utilize their Australian education in the regions and cities of Australia, particularly in areas where their expertise is in high demand."

The government's direct association of study programs with skill shortages implies that career services and collaboration between educators and employers will play a vital role in ensuring that students possess job-ready skills upon graduation.

Healthcare is one area where skill shortages are particularly critical in Australia, and international graduates who can contribute immediately will be essential in aiding the revival of this crucial public service sector. The significance of the issues confronting the healthcare system was underscored this month by Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews, who stated that "thousands of students in Victoria will be eligible for free education to pursue a career as a nurse or a midwife in the state."

The government has also declared that it will allocate AUS$ 36.1 million towards visa processing, which will support the hiring of 500 surge personnel over the next nine months. The aim is to minimize the duration that students have to wait for visa processing and decisions. In recent months, delays in this area have disappointed many international students, leading some of them to switch their study destinations.

Visa processing delays are not unique to Australia, as similar problems have also surfaced in many other popular student destinations such as Canada, the US, and the UK. Some students have been observed to research visa processing times while selecting their study destination, and agents have confirmed that visa processing has been a significant obstacle for students during the pandemic period.

The government's decision to reintroduce caps on working hours for students, however, has been received with mixed feelings. The limits on the number of hours international students could work across all sectors of the Australian economy were removed earlier this year. However, amid concerns about the students' ability to maintain a healthy balance between their academic and work commitments, working hours caps will now be reinstated in the summer of 2023.

Some students are not happy with the new policy and have expressed concerns about the ability to keep up with Australia's growing living costs without working more hours. On the other hand, some students welcomed working hour caps saying that the ability to spend more time focused on studies would be more beneficial to them in the long term.

In summary

The Australian government's decision to extend post-study work rights by two years for eligible international students is a significant development that is aimed to benefit both students and the labor market.

This move will offer students more time to gain valuable work experience in their field of study while also providing employers with a larger pool of skilled professionals to hire from.

Additionally, the increased work hours limit for international students will allow them to support themselves financially in Australia while keeping the focus on their studies.

The policy is expected to boost the country's economy and strengthen its reputation as a leading study destination for international students.