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How international students can keep enjoying Australia?

James Davis

Careers Commentator
Are you an international student wanting to build a career and life in Australia?

If you’re an international student who has enjoyed studying in Australia and wants to continue living and working here, we’ve prepared some tips on how to make that dream a reality. There are a number of different pathways to consider, so it’s important to understand all of your options.

The post-study work visa

International students in Australia are able to extend their stay after graduation by applying for 

Temporary Graduate visa 485. The visa has a ‘Post-Study Work’ stream which allows graduates from Australian institutions to stay in Australia for between two and four years after completing their studies. Higher levels of study result in longer stays; bachelor graduates get two years, master’s get three and PhDs four. Graduate certificates, graduate diplomas, trade qualifications and standalone diplomas are unfortunately ineligible

To be eligible, you must have valid health insurance, hold no debt with the Australian government and have completed a CRICOS registered course (you can check at cricos.education.gov.au). The visa costs $1,535 (AUD) and 90% of applications are processed within 90 days. The visa allows you to work and bring your family here, but each person will attract the same visa fee and they’ll also need to meet the prerequisites for residing in Australia.

Professional year programs

Although you might have been in Australia for two or more years already, if you come from a culture significantly different to Australia’s, it can take longer to feel completely graduate job-ready. Professional year programs offer international students from a variety of disciplines (usually accounting, IT or engineering) the opportunity to gain a year of relevant work experience in their field. Programs generally take 44 weeks to complete and involve a combination of classroom study and real work placements. A professional year can help you improve your workplace English, learn about Australian working culture and build a professional network. Some students are even offered jobs at the organisation they intern at.

There are a number of professional year program facilitators endorsed by the Australian Government. Costs vary by provider but are generally between $8,750 and $15,200 (AUD).

Postgraduate study

If you’re not ready to enter the workforce, require higher qualifications to pursue your career (in professional or academic life), or simply need more time to plan your next steps, enrolling in a postgraduate program can be a good solution. You don’t need to commit to a master’s right away, many programs allow you to enrol in a six-month graduate certificate with the option of continuing to a graduate diploma or coursework masters. Further study can give you the breathing space you need to continue pursuing a career in Australia.

Building your network

Whether you decide to enter the workforce, begin a professional year, or continue with further study, building a professional network in Australia is a smart idea. Push yourself to interact with people from other backgrounds, disciplines and career stages. If you’re still at university, you could do this by joining a club or society, or if you’ve already entered the workforce, try making an effort to join company social activities. Another great way to network with Australians is by joining a local sporting club. Australians love sport and don’t mind if you haven’t played before, as long as you’re willing to ‘have a crack’!

Keep an eye on networking or social events over social media. They can also offer good opportunities to meet other like-minded people. Even if you don’t make valuable professional connections, you could make some great friends! 

Australia is a country built on indigenous people and international migrants. If you feel a calling to build your career and life ‘down under’, then hopefully these tips will help make that a reality.