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DHA update on 485 and other matters

1. Several ISEAA’s members have raised concerns about sudden increase in student visa refusals for applications lodged on shore

DHA response is that “no changes were made in relation to processing of student visas” they did mention though that over the last 18 months there were hardly any student visa refusals and now we are back to the standard processing and assessments as pre covid.

Recommendation by ISEAA’s migration agents: please pay increased attention to GTE and in addition to the standard requirements as per Ministerial Direction 69, also address any gaps in study student might have had over the last 18 months due to COVID.

2. Sydney and Melbourne – due to the long lockdowns in both cities, BUPA services for health examinations have delayed finalisation of thousands of student visa applications. Many students however may complete their course prior obtaining their student visa and that may result in student visa refusal because the following requirement will no longer be met:

500.211 (a) – the applicant is enrolled in a course of study

For many applicants it means that they will not satisfy 485 graduate visa requirements.

DHA is aware of it and working on addressing in shortly.

3. Subclass 485 - graduate visa changes

a) Permanent increase of 485 visa duration for Master graduates from 2 years to 3 years regardless of the location of study

b) Temporary increase of 485 visa duration from 18 months to 2 years for VET graduates (i.e. trade certificates)

c) Visa subclass 485 can now be lodged on shore and off shore

d) 485 visa holders who were unable to travel to Australia or were locked out due to the border closure and lost time are now able to re-apply again

e) Temporary introduction of 485 visa for 2 years for VET graduates who are eligible to apply for 485 between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023 by removing any link to skilled occupations or skills assessment.

NOTE: according to DHA - student and graduate visa section, any international student, who completed 2 years of study in Australia (or off shore while being a holder of student visa) with at least Diploma level qualification and satisfied “ALL” other 485 visa requirements, can apply for 485 for 2 years ONLY in a period between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023.

Explanation: any student who satisfied 2 years study requirements by completing eligible courses will be able to apply for 485 without any reference to any skilled occupation. (please look at Reg 1.15F – Australian study requitements)

It is a great tool for certain cohort of international students to reach permanent residency and on the other hand it can significantly hamper chances for others who wish to reach permanent residency.

485 visa are only available “once” for the primary applicant and full time employment which 485 visa allows, is critical in obtaining either sponsorship or increasing chances for nominations for 190 or 491.

Scenario 1:

Helmut from Germany has only completed HSC equivalent back in Berlin and is about to complete 2 years study in Australia, course Diploma and Advanced Diploma of Leadership and Management. Helmut may be eligible for this new 485 visa for 2 years BUT what next? Helmut is not qualified (HSC and Advanced Diploma in L&M does not have an occupation from the current list of skilled occupations).

If Helmut applies and is granted 485 for 2 years, it may not provide too much help for other more permanent visa options.

Scenario 2:

Diego from Mexico completed Bachelor of Electrical Engineering back home and is working “part time” for electrical contractors here in Australia. He also is studying Diploma and Advanced Diploma of Leadership and Management. If Diego applies for this new 485 and is granted a 2 years 485 visa, as long as he continues working 2 years full time for his current employer, he can, after those 2 years of full-time employment on 485 be eligible for sponsorship which has a realistic pathway to Permanent visa.

In simple terms: students who are already qualified either from their home country or locally in an occupation on the skilled occupations list, and are merely looking for a full-time work rights to become skilled and eligible for sponsorship or increased chances for nomination, which is challenging to achieve on student visas (such as engineers, architects, tennis coach, etc) may, if well planned, greatly benefit from this temporary 485 visa.

I strongly encourage students who are considering this new 485 visa option to speak to registered migration agents or lawyers how to best utilise it for their “individual” migration pathway strategy by taking all circumstances into consideration, because it may not benefit everyone in a long term.

IMPORTANT: given the lodgement time limitation of this 485 visa option (1.7.2022 until 30.6.2023), it is designed to attract students who are already studying at the moment. The 2 years study requirement must be met no later then 30.6. 2023, which is 1.5 years way!!

Michal SESTAK, MARN 0208424


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