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International students: how to get a post-study work visa in Australia

James Davis

Careers Commentator
Did you know international students can get a two to four year work visa right after finishing uni? Read on to find out how, because it might surprise you.

Are you an international student looking for a visa to live and work in Australia? Each year around 180,000 international students begin tertiary studies in Australia. For many, the allure of a strong employment market, pleasant climate and staying in touch with new friends are good reasons for wanting to extend their stay down under.

Fortunately, the Department of Home Affairs offers Temporary Graduate visa 485, which allows graduates to work for varying durations based on their tertiary education.

Useful facts:

  • The 485 visa lets international students bring their families to Australia, so long as they specify that they intend to do so
  • International students must already hold another visa to be eligible (e.g. a student visa)
  • Applicants and their families need to have health insurance to be eligible.
  • International students who apply for ‘Bridging visa A’ can stay in Australia while their application is processed.
  • The 485 visa has two streams, detailed below.
  • International students must have completed their degree within six months of applying.

Post-Study Work stream

International students completing a degree at an Australian university or accredited tertiary education institution can apply. This costs around AUD 1,500 or more (depending on if you bring family). The duration is based on the level of education achieved rather than the study discipline, as per the table below.

Degree type Length of visa
Bachelor degree 2 years
Graduate certificate Not eligible
Graduate diploma Not eligible
Master degree 3 years
Doctorate / PHD 4 years

International students completing any of these qualifications in Australia can apply for their post-study work visa here. It’s important to note that graduate certificates and graduate diplomas do not qualify students for this visa.

Graduate Work stream

Unlike the 457 temporary work visa available to most people, this one is available to graduates without the need for an employer’s sponsorship. Students who have studied anywhere in the world and have skills Australia currently lacks can get an 18 month work visa for around AUD 1,500 depending on if they bring family. They must nominate a skilled occupation and then meet the relevant study requirement for that occupation (see list below).

Acceptable example: Nominating ‘accountant’ as your occupation and holding a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting).

Unacceptable example: Nominating ‘civil engineer’ as you occupation and holding a Bachelor of Laws.

This stream has a shorter duration, but is open to more qualifications.

Degree type Eligible for Graduate Work stream?
Certificate III or higher Yes
Diploma Yes
Bachelor degree Yes
Graduate certificate Yes
Graduate diploma Yes
Master degree Yes

International students can apply here to get their visa.

Eligible occupations for the Graduate Work stream 485 visa: