THE government’s game-changing new graduate visa is slated to integrate more international students into the Australian workforce, but raises a few questions of its own – including a new application fee that will cost graduates four times more than it did previously.
Starting this year, Australia’s international students will be entitled to a two-year work permit upon graduation.
But while the Skilled Graduate (Temporary) Visa allows international graduates to remain in Australia for 18 months after completing their studies, graduates now need to fork out almost four times more just to apply.
As of January 1, 2013, the cost of the provisional visa application has increased from $315 to $1250.
Under the recommendations of the Knight Review in 2011, the visa will be renamed the Temporary Graduate Visa and split into two pathways: the Graduate Work Stream and Post-Study Work Stream.
While the first stream retains the criteria of its parent visa, the Post-Study Work Stream allows eligible graduates to stay and work in Australia for various lengths of time.
Graduates of a Bachelor degree, Masters by Coursework or Masters (Extended) can apply for a two-year visa, while Masters (Research) and Doctoral graduates will have up to four years.
Students enrolled in diplomas, graduate diplomas or English Language Intensive Courses can also apply for the permit if their courses count toward the completion of a degree.
To be eligible for entry, applicants must be in Australia and under 50 years of age. They must meet appropriate health and character requirements, and score at least 6 in each band of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
Most importantly, students must have attained a degree-level qualification from an accredited Australian institution within six months of their application. Those courses must be taught in English over at least two academic years (92 weeks) and be registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS).
A notable issue with the new stream is that existing visa holders will be left out in the cold.
The Post-Study Work Stream is unavailable to students who applied for their first visa before November 5, 2011, regardless of extensions. Students who applied after November 5, 2011 were assessed under the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirements, which determines whether a student is commencing a temporary stay in Australia.
Applicants undertaking courses on other visas that allow concurrent study will also not be eligible for the new stream.
Moreover, the Post-Study Work Stream does not require applicants to undergo skills assessments or nominate an occupation on the Skilled Occupations List.
This allows students who commenced their course in 2012 to remain in Australia after graduation, regardless of their eligibility for listed occupations. However, students who enrolled in 2011 or earlier are still restricted to the arrangements outlined in the Skilled Graduate (Temporary) Visa.
In response to the changes, Acacia Immigration Australia is petitioning for the government to modify the requirements for the Post-Study Work Stream.
“Why should students who commenced studies earlier be punished, particularly if they have completed the course they have come to Australia to study?” Acacia chief executive Mark Webster said in the petition to Immigration Minister Christ Bowen.
“The PSWV should be open to all students, regardless of when they commenced their studies,” Mr Weber wrote.
More to come…
The visa changes are expected to take place in early 2013. See the Australian Government’s announcement for more information on the policy.