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Australia on a visa in 2021


Truthfully, Australia did not give much thought to its student visa holders, that is until 2020 when we didn’t have them, then it became blatantly obvious how much we needed them not just as university students but as skilled workers after their studies. We are waiting on the Australian Government to announce their plans to bring back to Australia the international students who are completing their studies remotely while enrolled in Australian education institutions.


There is a vacuum in Australia for places in our economy which were traditionally taken by the significant cohort of international students which was abruptly stopped by the COVID pandemic. Perhaps that was one of the reasons the government announced changes to the Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485) visa. In September 2020 the Government announced changes to the 485 visa allowing students to receive this visa from outside Australia and they were able to apply for this visa within 12 months of completing their study course. In October came the news that students in regional Australia were able to extend their 485 visa for one or two years depending on where they had attended university. This was on top of the two years already available for them with the Temporary Graduate Visa.


The skilled visa cohort of international applicants was also abruptly halted in 2020. Final allocations for the interim skilled visa nomination program for 2020-21 were announced for all Australian states and territories as late as September. No surprises that priority was given to the essential areas of work in the COVID pandemic response as well as regional Australia. The Minister published a list of priority occupations which are processed ahead of others. International graduates hoping for permanent residency are anticipating the full skilled program to be reinstated for 2021. States and Territories are coming up with new criteria to support the onshore international students who work in their skilled occupations in essential areas and priority is again give to those residing in regional areas.


Victoria has reopened its skilled program for 5 days to fill their available allocations. Onshore applicants would be able to register their interest in the following months through to the end of the financial year for 5 days at the start of each month. Nominations by the State of Victoria and consequently invitations for skilled migration visa applications are to be issued to applicants in highly skilled occupation such as health, research, life sciences, agri-food or digital sectors. The State of Victoria gives priority to visa applicants involved in the COVID response and based in regional postcodes. Selection dates are at around the 20th day of the month for those anxiously waiting once submitting their registration of interest at the start of the month. The good news is that most applicants who have been selected in the September 2020 invitation window for Victoria already have their permanent residency visas granted.


Tasmania and New South Wales should make announcements soon about their programs, but Queensland’s program will remain suspended.


Assent Migration Lawyers are in the best position to advise on the types of post university visas available to students, how to qualify for them and at the same time will keep you updated with the latest news relating to your area of interest.

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