The Federal government has announced changes to visa settings, to help provide much needed flexibility for international students set to return to Australia. This in conjunction with a $37 million financial support package is Intended to help boost the rapid return of international students.
The new settings will extend measures to protect the post-study work rights of international students as well as extend the temporary graduate visa from two to three years for masters by coursework graduates.
Implications of the new visa settings
- Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holders who have been unable to travel to Australia because of COVID-19 international border restrictions will be able to apply for a replacement visa. The changes will allow 30,000 students whose visas have expired after February 1, 2020 to reapply for a new 485 visa of the same duration as their original one.
- An increase the length of stay on the Temporary Graduate visa from 2 to 3 years for Masters by coursework graduates, matching that of Masters by research graduates. Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector graduates will also receive a two-year Temporary Graduate visa. Prior to the pandemic, Australia had 170,000 graduates of masters by coursework programs, this cohort will now be able to stay on to work for 3 years instead of 2. Whilst vocational education graduates will be eligible for a 2-year temporary visa.
- Students will have their time spent studying offshore recognised when applying for a temporary graduate visa.
In addition to the visa changes, there will be further financial support for the international education sector with more than $37 million made available to support those providers most affected by COVID-19. Extended regulatory fee waivers and additional grants are elements of this, as well as extending an exemption of a 25% for students accessing government support for student loans, and another $9 million for English-language colleges to develop online courses.
Source: Media Release, Department of Education, Skills and Employment & Australian Financial Review, 2021