The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a significant increase in complications for visitors and students in Australia. This can get particularly complex once your student visa is approaching its expiry date and you may be considering your next steps.
Due to the ongoing border closures, many incoming arrivals to Australia will not be able to pass through the Australian incoming travel ban. Consequentially, at this stage, to depart Australia means it is highly likely you will be unable to re-enter again during the pandemic period. Additionally, many home countries are experiencing ongoing and dangerous outbreaks of the virus and may not be safe to return to at this time. As a result, if you hold a student visa, and your period of study and your visa stay period is close to ending, you will need to make an informed decision about your pathways moving forward.
The fundamental consideration to remember in all migration dealings is that you should ensure you remain on a lawful visa during your stay period in Australia. Remaining in Australia after your visa has ceased means you have become an unlawful non-citizen. This has a series of negative consequences, including:
- Being detained by the Australian Border Force Team,
- Being unable to apply for another substantive visa until you have departed Australia, and
- Potentially being banned for up to three years from further entry into Australia.
With these consequences in mind, it is essential that you ensure you remain lawfully within the country at all times during your stay in Australia. Fortunately, there are several options you may wish to consider if your student visa is close to expiry.
1. Apply for a Temporary Graduate visa
The Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa contains two streams: The Post-Study stream, and the Graduate stream.
If you have completed a bachelors degree of three (3) years or more in Australia, then you will be eligible for the post-study stream. This will allow you to remain in Australia for up to a further two (2) years.
Alternatively, if you have completed a vocational course of two (2) years or longer onshore in Australia, and have an occupation on the medium- to long-term skilled occupation list, you may be eligible for the Graduate stream. This will allow you to remain in Australia for up to 18 months.
Keep in mind that for both streams of the Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa, there is only one opportunity you will ever have to hold one of these visas. Therefore, it is generally best applied for once you are confident you have completed your period of study.
2. Apply for Another Student Visa
There are a large number of courses offered by universities and colleges in Australia that are accredited under the CRICOS scheme that allow foreign nationals to apply for a student visa while they study onshore. If you are unsure of your next step and have enjoyed your period of study, you can apply for an additional degree or course to extend your stay in Australia. This may range from degrees that might extend or focus your study area (such as a Masters in your relevant discipline), to a vocational course that simply broadens your skills in a new area (for instance, a Diploma in leadership and management).
Generally, if you are considering further study in Australia, it may be best to talk to a migration lawyer or education agent. They may be able to assist you in clarifying the requirements of the Student visa, and whether there might be any aspect of your proposed study that might generate an element of risk and potentially affect the outcome of your application.
3. Apply for a Partner Visa
If you are in a relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and your relationship is either a spousal or de-facto relationship, you may be eligible for the Onshore Partner (Subclass 820) visa. This visa is based on the entitlement that every Australian citizen or permanent resident has for their immediate family to join them in Australia.
If you are in a relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you will need to meet the eligibility criteria before you can first apply for this visa. The criteria require you to have either co-resided for at least 12 months, obtained a civil partnership certificate, or have been legally married before you can apply for this visa. The Department of Home Affairs will also rigorously scrutinise whether you are in fact in a genuine and ongoing relationship before they will be satisfied you meet the criteria for the grant of the visa.
4. Apply for a Visitor Visa
If you have completed your period of study, are unsure about your next step and are considering your options, you may consider applying for a visitor visa for a brief time period before you apply for further study. Be warned, however, that the visitor visa is not granted with a condition that allows you to work. Therefore, for the period the visitor visa is enforced, you will be restricted from being able to work in any capacity in the community. Notwithstanding this, a visitor visa can be a valuable option to briefly extend your stay whilst you are considering your options for further study. Generally, however, if you consider you have completed your period of study in Australia, you should seriously consider whether it is time and more appropriate for your circumstances to apply for one of the Temporary Graduate visas.
If you would like advice as to whether you are eligible for one of these visas, or require further information, please contact a member of the Corney & Lind Migration Law team today.