On 19 September 2020, the Australian government issued a new piece of regulation known as the Migration Amendment (COVID-19 Concession) to the Migration Regulations year 1994.
This new regulation is made to assist temporary visa holders, including those who currently or previously held student visas, and are affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The impacts include border seizure, restrictions imposed on businesses, and the general economic downturn.
This new legislation introduces the definition of “concession period” that means the time commences on 1 February 2020 and ends on a day to be specified.
The legislation has not given an end date due to the ongoing COVID-19 challenges.
This concession period applies to various visa applications, including the one that you may be eligible to apply after completing your Australian studies:
This visa allows recent Australian graduates to live, study, and work full-time in Australia temporarily up to 2 years. After that, if you choose to live and work in a regional area, you may be eligible to extend to the third year, or for another 3 years if you are an eligible Hong Kong resident.
This visa is exclusive for International students who apply and satisfy the Australian Study Requirement within 6 months of successfully completing their Australian tertiary studies.
Initially, this visa could only be lodged onshore. However, from the 19 September 2020, the new legislation will allow you to apply for and be granted Subclass 485 visas while in or outside Australia during the concession period.
What are the benefits?
Concessions are also provided about ‘time of application’ requirements, which include:
- Allowing offshore applications, that are made during the concession period, without the usual requirement, to have held a student visa within the six months immediately before making the application.
- Extend the period to meet the Australian Study Requirement from six months to 12 months for applicants prevented from returning to Australia due to the travel restrictions during all or part of the period commencing on 1 February 2020 and ending on 19 September 2020. If you study online from your home country, this shall be counted towards meeting the Australian study requirements.
- Allowing applicants who made a Subclass 485 visa application from outside Australia during the concession period to be granted the visa in or outside of Australia regardless of whether the concession period has ended.
But what are the challenges?
If you plan to apply for a Subclass 485 visas, you may find some new challenges such as:
- Delayed processing time: Currently, the Immigration are focusing on and prioritizing urgent applications, including family visas. This has made a delay in the processing time of any other Temporary Visa Applications, including the Temporary Graduate Visa from 5 – 6 months until up to 10 months or more.
- Uncertainty of when the border would reopen: you may find it overwhelming to wait for the border to reopens so that you will be allowed to enter Australia, even if you already have your Subclass 485 visas granted.
- Scarcity of employment: as you may know, the COVID-19 has affected most businesses, making job vacancies rare to find.
What can I do after I obtain a Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) Visas?
You already get your Temporary Graduate Visa, however the border is still closed. Don’t worry, you have some options.
If you apply for this visa in the Graduate Work stream, you should be granted a visa with 18 months’ validity. If you apply for this visa in the Post-Study Work stream, depending on your qualification, you should be granted a 2 to 4-year visa.
The visa period will commence from the date of entry to Australia. This means that once your visa is granted, you will have at least 18 months to enter Australia so if border closure and travel restrictions remain in place for a longer period, you will not be disadvantaged because your visa will commence on the date of first entry and not from visa grant date.
Meanwhile, you could consider to:
- Take an online Professional Year Program from your home country. This program is exclusive for Temporary Graduate Visa holders. Once you have completed this program, you will be qualified towards permanent residence.
- Take an online NAATI CCL test. This is an assessment of your language abilities at a community level. Once you have successfully passed the test, you are awarded five bonus points for a Skilled visa. Such bonus points are also defined as Credentialed Community Language Points. With extra points, you will have more chances to apply for your next visas and apply for permanent residence.
- Once the border reopens, you may want to consider choosing to live, and work in regional areas to be able to apply for extra years for your Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) Visa.
And what’s my further opportunity after obtaining a 485 visa?
Once the border reopens, you can come to live and work in regional Australia with your visas. Next, you may be qualified for Skilled Provisional visas (sc489, sc457, sc487, sc495, and sc496). To be able to qualify for this visa, you must have lived for at least two years in regional Australia and worked full time for a total of one year in the specified regional area.
After that, you can consider applying for a Skilled Regional Visa (Subclass 887). This visa is the second stage visa process for you who hold Skilled Provisional visas (sc489, sc457, sc487, sc495, sc496, and relevant bridging visas (when applicable)), and are seeking permanent residence.
We wish this answers all your questions. All in all, these COVID-19 concessions are meant to help ease you in fulfilling all the requirements for the Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) Visa.
Still unsure where you stand or in doubt due to the border closure? Think nothing of it, consult with our in-house Registered Migration Agent (MARN: 0961448) now, and get personalized, legal, and professional advice on your Subclass 485 visa and permanent residence applications.