Australia ends two-year extension of post-study work rights for international students

By Binh Minh, Minh Nga   February 28, 2024 | 03:29 pm PT
Australia ends two-year extension of post-study work rights for international students
International students in Australia. Photo by AFP
Starting the middle of this year, Australia will adjust its post-study work rights policy for international students, reducing the duration international graduates can stay in the country for work purposes.

Previously, the Australian government had extended the post-study work visa durations for undergraduates, master's, and PhD students in selected programs, allowing them to stay for up to 4-6 years depending on their level of study.

These durations will now revert to the original 2-3 years, according to the announcement made by the Australia's Department of Education last week.

Australia announced plans to apply the extended post-study work rights for international graduates starting July 1 last year, providing graduates with degrees in select areas of verified skill shortage an additional two years on their Temporary Graduate visa, with an aim to "strengthen the pipeline to skilled work."

The extension is in addition to the existing additional one to two years of post-study work rights available to eligible students who study, live and work in regional areas.

Now, that policy has been reconsidered given Australia's changed economic environment and additional considerations.

As such, international higher education graduates will no longer be able to apply for the extension from mid-2024.

The latest decision comes as part of a broader migration strategy by the Australian government, aiming to improve the integrity and quality of international education.

The strategy involves introducing a "Genuine Student Test" to replace the "Genuine Temporary Entrant" eligibility requirement, strictly regulating the number of student visa applications processed, raising English language test score requirements, reducing the list of approved courses, and applying restrictions on course swapping.

The new rules also include a raised English language requirement for the Temporary Graduate visa, increasing from an IELTS score of 6 to 6.5.

Additionally, the age limit for applicants has been lowered from 50 to 35 years, and there will be no further opportunities for the extension of post-study work rights, except for those who have completed their education in a regional area.

These changes reflect the government's efforts to ensure that foreign graduates contribute to filling the skill shortage in the country and that the visa system is used primarily for study purposes rather than as a pathway to long-term residency.

Australia last December announced a significant policy shift aimed at reducing its migrant intake by half within the next two years.

The decision comes after net immigration was expected to have peaked at a record 510,000 in 2022-23. Official data showed it was forecast to fall to about a quarter of a million in 2024-25 and 2025-26, roughly in line with pre-Covid levels.

A Reuters report said the country would "tighten visa rules for international students and low-skilled workers, as the government looks to overhaul what it said was a "broken" migration system."

According to the Department of Home Affairs, about 20% of international students were not granted visas in the second half of 2023, the highest in three years.

The Australian Department of Home Affairs also announced last December to rank universities based on their risk level.

Based on the data of students who previously violated visa regulations, universities are categorized into three groups. International students applying to Group 1 will be prioritized.

For those in Groups 2 and 3, the visa application process will take more time, requiring additional proof of English proficiency and financial capacity.

According to the Australian Department of Education, as of last October, the country hosted about 768,000 international students, with the largest groups from China, India, and Nepal.

Vietnam ranks sixth with over 31,000 students studying in Australia.

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