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New research recommends international students be allowed to extend post-study work visa

Source: SBS

The report, ‘Temporary graduatification: Impacts of post-study work rights policy’ recommends federal government introduce a policy that allows international graduates to renew or extend their temporary graduate visa based on their job status and level of income.

A group of researchers have recommended the international students should be permitted to renew the temporary graduate visa if they have held a full-time job and a level of income for at least six months.

A new study into the impact of 485 visa policy by Deakin researchers has found the temporary graduate visa program helps attract international students to Australia and gives them the benefit of extra time here once they’ve completed their studies but more needs to be done to improve this visa program.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Ly Tran from Deakin University’s School of Education said Australia has some of the most progressive arrangements in terms of international graduate working rights but there were areas where this visa program could be improved.

“There is a critical need to work with local businesses and employers to build an understanding of 485 visas and the status and potential of international graduates on 485 visas,” Associate Professor Tran said.

“The Federal Government should introduce regulation that permits the renewal or extension of the temporary graduate visa for an extra one or two years based on criteria related to: (1) job status (for those who are in fulltime employment in their field of study for at least six months) and (2) level of income,” Associate Professor Tran said.

‘Post-study work visa very attractive to international students’

A 485-visa holder, Ankit Sobti, who recently completed his Masters of Business (Sports Management), says Australia’s post-study work visa policy was one of the reasons he chose to study in Australia.

“485 visa is definitely a good opportunity for international students like me to gain some work experience in Australia. It was one of the main reasons I decided to study at an Australian university,” Mr Sobti told SBS Hindi.

Ankit Sobti
Ankit Sobti says Australia’s post-study work visa policy was one of the reasons he chose to study in Australia.
Supplied

Melbourne-based migration agent Rohit Mohan says 485 visa is a huge factor for Indian students who choose Australia as their study destination.

“It is often the first question many students ask. They want to gain work experience and put those skills to use right after they finish their studies,” Mr Mohan told SBS Hindi.

“But it is a catch-22 situation for most students as 485 visa is still a temporary visa and most employers want to employ somebody who is going to stay, like a permanent visa holder.  

"This often forces international students to take up jobs in other fields which may not be relevant to their field or area of studies," ” Mr Mohan says.

Mr Sobti agrees.

“I work on a casual basis with the AFL right now which is relevant to my field of study. I am applying for full-time roles but the employer wants a permanent resident,” Mr Sobti says.

Australia's intake of international students continues to grow.
Australia's intake of international students continues to grow.
AAP

"Greater guidance and support needed for international students"

The research backs this observation as the findings suggest a majority of international graduates on 485 visas find work (89 per cent for past visa holders and 79 per cent of current visa holders) but they are not necessarily working in their chosen profession or area of study.

“Up to 56 per cent of current visa holders either work outside their field of study (35 per cent) or are unemployed (21 per cent), which poses a risk of under-employment, financial stress and vulnerability for this group,” Associate Professor Tran said.

“We found employers are often reluctant to employ international graduates on a 485 visa especially if they also have a candidate with permanent residency.”

Associate Professor Tran said the report identified the need for greater guidance and support systems for international students applying for these visas.

“Universities are not allowed to provide advice on 485 visa applications or migrations issues and this leaves international students vulnerable to some migration agents who charge high fees and often provide poor advice that may not be in the student’s best professional interests,” Associate Professor Tran said.

The report, ‘Temporary graduatification: Impacts of post-study work rights policy’ recommends federal government introduce a policy that allows international graduates to renew or extend their temporary graduate visa based on their job status and level of income.

It also recommends the government introduce a regulation that allows international students in approved courses for at least two years to obtain an automatic 485 visa extension after they graduate.  

By June 2019, the Federal Government had granted 91,776 of these visas to international graduates. 

More than 70,000 international students enrolled at Australian educational institutes and universities in 2018.

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