International Students

You are in Australia at the moment as an international student. You have a student visa and you are (or have been) studying for a qualification from a higher education institution in Australia, which you will gain as a result of meeting the 2 years full-time study requirement (see below). When you have finished your studies you plan to apply for permanent residence (PR) in Australia.

No doubt you are aware that it is no longer as easy as it used to be to gain PR as a result of one's studies in Australia and that getting a permanent visa has become quite a complex affair.

We will begin this special section of our website by setting out the issues which you, as an international student, need to be particularly careful about when you are planning to apply for a Skilled Visa (Subclasses 885, 886, 487 and 485).

Current Regulations - from 1 July 2012

If you hold (or have applied for) a Skilled Graduate Visa - Subclass 485
or if you are likely to finish your studies in December 2012
you may be eligible to apply for a Subclass 885, 886 or 487 Skilled Visa
until 31 December 2012
as long as you meet the necessary requirements (see below).
When you do, you will be granted a Bridging Visa while your application is processed.

Everyone else will have to go through SkillSelectClick to find out about SkillSelect,
which means lodging an Expression of Interest and waiting for an invitation.
To remain lawfully in Australia while you are waiting for an invitation
(and in due course the grant of a visa)
you need to apply first for a Skilled Graduate Visa - Subclass 485.

1. Your Qualification

The qualification you gain in Australia pretty well determines what occupation you can nominate in your application for a Skilled Visa - your "nominated occupation". Your occupation must be listed on the current SOL, unless on 8 February 2010

  1. you were the holder of (or had applied for) a subclass 485 visa, in which case you can use the SOL current at that time to apply for a subclass 885 visa, or
  2. you were the holder of a subclasss 572, 573 or 574 Student visa, in which case you can apply only for a Subclass 485 visa using the SOL current at that time, or
  3. your occupation is listed on the State Nominated Occupation List of the state where you have completed your studies and you have obtained a state nomination before 31 December 2012, in which case you can apply for a Subclass 886 or 487 Visa (before 31 December 2012).

2. The Australian Study Requirement

For your visa application to be successful you must have an Australian qualification that is closely related to your nominated occupation, which you must have gained -

  1. after 2 academic years of study (which is defined as 92 weeks of registered study) and
  2. after a minimum of 16 calendar months of study in Australia
  3. in a course registered with the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS)

This is the official DIAC statement and it may seem confusing. What it means is that you must have completed a course which consists of at least 92 weeks registered study (but may be longer) over a period of at least 16 months (but may be longer - even longer than 2 years). In other words, people who are very clever or very hard workers can complete a course which officially takes 92 weeks in less time than that - and still meet the Australian Study requirement provided that it took them at least 16 months. On the other hand people who prefer to take it easy may take longer, perhaps several years, to complete a 92-week course - and that's OK too, as long as the course is finished within the period for which your student visa was granted.

3. The Requirement to apply within 6 months

Unless you are the holder of a Subclass 485 visa, for your visa application to be successful you must apply within 6 months after the date on which you are officially notified of your results (e.g. by mail, by email, through a web site or on a bulletin board). In other words, the 6 month period does not begin when your course finishes, nor does it begin on the date of the conferral ceremony! It would be wise, therefore, to make a careful note of the date 6 months after you are given your results, because if you don't apply before that date, your visa application will fail: at the time of applying for the visa you need to have an eligible student visa!

4. The English Language Requirement

For your visa application to be successful you need to provide as a part of your application an IELTS Test Report Form showing a score of at least 6 in all four components of the test (speaking, listening, reading and writing). It is not acceptable to have an average score of 6: you have to have at least IELTS 6 for every component.

IELTS results are valid for 24 months. If your visa application is submitted later than 24 months after you took the IELTS test, you have to do the test again. You have to sit the test also, of course, if you didn't achieve a score of 6 previously (which is unlikely for many current students).

In some cities in Australia the waiting time for a place in the IELTS test can be considerable, sometimes up to 3 months, and it may take a few weeks more before you get the Report Form. Given the 6-month deadline referred to above, it is essential, therefore, to book your place on the test as soon as possible after (or even before) you get your course results.

5. The Skills Assessment Requirement

As part of your visa application you must provide evidence that your skills have been assessed as suitable for your nominated occupation by the relevant assessing authority for your nominated occupation. It is your responsibility to obtain a skills assessment. Each assessing authority has its own assessment procedures, timeframes and fees.

The time it takes to prepare a Skills Assessment application and to have the assessment completed can be substantial, often several months. Given the 6-month deadline, you are strongly advised to contact the relevant assessing authority as soon as possible after you get your course results.

If you are unable to obtain a skills assessment before your student visa expires, you will need to apply for a Sublass 485 visa, and then apply for permanent residence when you receive a positive outcome on your skills assessment.

If you have completed your studies in Australia and have gained an Australian qualification
Click here to find out what is involved in applying for a visa.


If you are currently studying for an Australian qualification and have not yet completed your studies
Click here to find out what is involved in applying for a visa.