In a significant overhaul of the Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa, the Australian government has introduced several important changes as part of its broader Migration Strategy. These updates, set to take effect from 1 July 2024, are aimed at refining the visa process and eligibility criteria, including the introduction of a new 35 age limit for applicants. This blog post details these changes, helping potential applicants understand how they might be affected.

Key Changes to the 485 Visa Program

Introduction of the 35 Age Limit

One of the most notable changes in the 485 visa program is the establishment of a 35 age limit for applicants under both the newly named ‘Post-Vocational Education Work’ stream and the ‘Post-Higher Education Work’ stream. This means that applicants must be 35 years of age or under at the time of their application to qualify. However, Hong Kong and British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders are granted an exception, where they can apply up until 50 years of age. The English language requirements for the 485 visa also recently increase.

Stream Renaming and Restructuring

  • Graduate Work Stream Changes: Formerly known as the Graduate Work stream, this category will now be called the ‘Post-Vocational Education Work’ stream. It specifically caters to individuals who hold an associate degree, diploma, or trade qualification that is closely related to an occupation on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). Notably, those with a degree level qualification or above are now required to apply through the ‘Post-Higher Education Work’ stream.
  • Post-Study Work Stream Changes: The Post Study Work stream will also undergo a renaming to become the ‘Post-Higher Education Work’ stream. This stream continues to cater to graduates with higher education qualifications such as bachelor’s, masters, and doctoral degrees. The visa grant periods have been adjusted to align with the level of qualification, enhancing clarity and specificity in the visa allocation process.

Visa Grant Period Adjustments

The visa grant periods have been updated to provide clear distinctions based on the level of academic achievement:

  • Bachelor degree (including honours): 2 years
  • Masters (coursework and extended): 2 years
  • Masters (research) and doctoral degrees (PhD): 3 years

For Hong Kong and BNO passport holders, regardless of their study course, the visa duration is extended to five years, providing them with additional opportunities and flexibility.

Special Provisions for Indian Nationals

Following the Australian Indian – Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA), Indian nationals benefit from tailored visa grant periods that recognize high academic achievements, particularly in STEM fields.

Termination of the Replacement Stream

The Replacement Stream, a temporary measure introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, will be discontinued from 1 July 2024. This stream was initially designed to assist students who were adversely affected by the pandemic and the associated restrictions.

Conclusion

There has been no announcement of any provisions (such as grandfathering) allowing current students to still apply post the 1st of July 2024 however we will be monitoring this with Home Affairs and seeking input from the Migration Institute of Australia and Migration Alliance.

The new 35 age limit for the 485 visa is a key update that potential applicants must be aware of. As always, prospective applicants should consult with migration experts or check the official Department of Home Affairs website to ensure they meet all the new requirements and timelines.

This blog post aims to clarify the 485 visa age changes and streamline the application process for prospective candidates, ensuring they are well-informed and prepared for the changes coming in July 2024.