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A couple of major changes to Australia’s student visa and graduate visas were announced on February 21, 2023, by the Minister for Home Affairs.

To highlight major changes,

  • Student visa work rights to increase from 40 to 48 hours per fortnight;
  • 485 visas to be longer for select qualifications.

Student visa work rights to increase from 40 to 48 hours per fortnight

Commencing 1st of July 2023 student visa holders (subclass 500) will be able to work up to 48 hours a fortnight should they be subject to visa restrictions. This concurs with the rolling back of unlimited work rights for student visa holders on 30 June 2023, which was a temporary measure to cope with the labour shortages from the pandemic.

Whilst work limitations apply to primary and secondary student visa holders. In all circumstances except under current policy settings, student visa holders can only work in Australia once the course for which the student visa was granted has begun.

Visa holders are exempt from waiting if:

  • At the time of applying for the visa, they held a visa (including a bridging visa) that permitted them to work in Australia.
  • Primary student visa holders studying a master’s degree by research or doctoral degree. In addition, work limitations do not apply to both the primary and secondary visa holders.

Any work which is specified as a requirement for their CRICOS registered course is not affected by work limitations. Primary student visa holders have unlimited work rights when their course is out of session.

Secondary student visa holders are subject to a blanket visa condition that restricts them to only working 40 hours per fortnight unless the primary student visa holder is studying a master’s (coursework or research) or doctoral degree.

From the announcement it appears that for both primary and secondary student visa holders, the day the unlimited work restrictions are wound back and where work limitations apply, the maximum allowable working hours will increase from 40 hours to 48 hours per fortnight. This will apply to all student visa holders regardless of when their visa was granted. As this is likely to be a permanent measure, the Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth) and visa conditions 8104 and 8105 are expected to be amended.

485 visas under the post-Study stream to increase based on qualification.

Most of the student visa holders seek a subclass 485 – Temporary Graduate visa after completing their studies. This entitles them and any family members also granted this visa full work rights. For many, this is a springboard to seek a permanent skilled visa, either an employer-sponsored visa or a General Skilled Migration visa.

Following the Jobs and Skills Summit held last year, a clearer picture of the “select” fields and qualifications that will see 485 visas under the Post-Study Stream granted for an additional two years is made a little clearer.

Starting 1 July 2023, according to the Department of Education, those who studied a certain qualification that aligns with an identified occupation in demand will have their visas granted for an additional two years:

  • Four years for bachelor’s degrees,
  • Five years for master’s degrees,
  • Six years for doctoral degrees.

Noting that any doctoral graduates will automatically be granted a visa for six years regardless of what they studied.

While a final list of courses has not been published, an indicative list has, featuring healthcare, teaching, engineering, ICT, and agriculture qualifications.

Eligible 485 visa holders will be able to apply for a further two years from 1 July 2023. Existing 485 visa holders whose visa expires before 1 July 2023 do not need to miss out as they can apply for a subclass 408 – Temporary Activity visa under the Australian Government endorsed events (COVID-19 Pandemic event) stream for a 2-year visa instead of the usual one-year visa. They must meet the standard criteria of either working in Australia or have an offer of employment to work in Australia, among other things.

Another good news, to those who study in a regional area, they will also be able to apply for a further 485 visas as well.

If you need assistance in obtaining a Student Visa in Australia, please do not hesitate to reach out AusStudyVisa at