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Can I apply for a Graduate Subclass 485 visa from outside Australia using the COVID-19 concessions?

By September 24, 2020November 18th, 202146 Comments

australian immigration practice

The COVID-19 pandemic has been disruptive for all, including migrants and visa holders. Australia’s travel restrictions and the pandemic in general meant that a significant number of individuals had their eligibility for Australian visas removed due to factors outside of their control.

On 19 September 2020, a suite of legislative amendments came into effect which, amongst other things, made certain former Students re-eligible for the Graduate Subclass 485 (Graduate) visa, and permits them to apply from outside Australia.  These changes are summarised below.

Why are these changes significant?

The Graduate visa previously required all applicants to:

  • be inside Australia at the time they lodged their visa application;
  • hold an eligible Student visa (or have held an eligible Student visa in the 6 months prior to application); and
  • have completed the Australian study requirement in the 6 months prior to applying for the Graduate 485 visa.

If you did not meet the above criteria, you unfortunately lost eligibility for the Graduate visa. The COVID pandemic meant that many former international students, who for example went overseas for holidays and/or to see family, were stuck outside Australia, and became ineligible for the Graduate visa.

Without legislative changes, these former Students would have loss their opportunity to apply for a Graduate visa.

What are the changes?

The changes amended the legislative criteria to apply for a Graduate visa for affected individuals, including:

  • adding the ability to apply for a Graduate visa while outside Australia during a “concession period”;
  • removing the requirement to hold or have held a Student visa in the 6 months prior to applying for the Graduate visa for individuals who apply from outside Australia;
  • increasing the period that an applicant is required to have completed the “Australian study requirement” prior to applying for the Graduate visa from 6 months to 12 months;
    • this only applies to individuals who satisfy the Minister that they were unable to apply for a Graduate visa within 6 months because they outside Australia for all or part of the period between 1 February 2020 to 19 September 2020 (both days inclusive).

These changes will ensure that certain former Students who lost their eligibility to apply for Graduate 485 visas regained eligibility. These changes apply irrespective of stream (i.e. they apply to applicants under both the Post-Study Work stream and the Graduate Work stream).

What is the “concession period”?

The initial concession period begins from 1 February 2020 and ends on a date determined by the Minister in a legislative instrument.  There is currently no such instrument.

Can I travel to Australia / how long will my visa be granted for?

Presently, even if the Graduate visa is granted to you, you will still need to apply for a travel exemption to be able to travel to Australia. You can read about these exemptions here.

Interestingly the explanatory memorandum that accompanied these legislative changes indicated that these concessions were made “in anticipation of the easing of travel restrictions”. There is no indication as to what these may be, and/or whether it will be specific to Graduate visa holders.

Ordinarily, Graduate visas are granted for 18 months for individuals under the “Graduate Work” stream, and 2 to 4 years for individuals under the “Post-Study Work” stream (depending on your qualification) from the date of grant.

However, the explanatory memorandum further indicated that such Graduate visas will be granted to allow a period of stay in Australia which commences on the date of first entry to ensure that there is no disadvantage to Graduate visa holders if the travel restrictions remain in place for a further period.

When do these changes take effect?

The changes took effect from 19 September 2020, and the relevant immigration forms have been updated to reflect this.

Can we help?

Our professional fees for a consultation to discuss your eligibility, or assistance with an application are set out below:

ConsultationRecommended

$ 350

Plus GST
  • Review of Circumstances
  • Discussion on Prospects
  • Consideration of other visa options
Book Now

Application

$ 1,500

Plus GST
  • Review of Documents
  • Preparation of Complete Application
  • Submission of Application
Contact Us

Conclusion

This is a welcome reprieve for many former international students who feared losing eligibility for visa pathways.

Please feel free to contact us by email at [email protected] or phone +61 3 9016 0484 if you have further comments or queries.

This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult an immigration professional for up to date information.
Jordan Tew

Author Jordan Tew

Jordan is one of less than 50 lawyers who are Accredited Specialists in Immigration Law by the Law Institute of Victoria, and less than 100 nationally. Accredited Specialists undergo a vigorous assessment process, and make up about 1% of all registered migration agents.

More posts by Jordan Tew

Join the discussion 46 Comments

  • Saritha says:

    Hi Jordan,

    My student visa end date is July 2021. However I completed my PhD recently. Just wondering if I could stay in the current student visa till July 2021, even though I have completed my studies?

    Cheers
    Saritha

    • admin says:

      Hi Saritha,
      This can be quite complex as you need to comply with your visa conditions.
      Please contact us at [email protected] if you want to discuss this further.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

    • John says:

      Hi there

      A quick question

      I had to leave Australia due to my fathers medical condition on the 10th of September and was only able to complete my offshore application on the 25th of December due to me being stuck in South Africa due to the various lockdowns.

      I completed my course on the 25th of June and submitted my application on the 25th of December which is in 6 months.

      Is this still fine or would this be regarded as a late application.

      Regards

      • admin says:

        Hi John,
        That application appears to be within the 6 month period (and offshore applications are permitted) so you should be fine.
        If not, you’ll be notified within your acknowledgement letter.
        Good luck,
        Hannan Tew

  • Jack says:

    If students leave Australia now after finishing a PhD and their study was not impacted by COVID, can they apply for a 485 visa from overseas? I mean if they go offshore, they won’t be able to come back, so can they still apply from overseas?

    • admin says:

      Hi Jack,
      Correct, generally speaking, Schedule 1 for that visa has been amended to allow you to apply for the visa offshore as long as you are within the concession period (which is still current). Just make sure you meet other requirements (e.g. Aus study requirements, held a valid Student visa in the relevant period).
      Feel free to get in touch with us at [email protected] to discuss your specific eligibility.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • shohel says:

    hello Jordan
    I have completed my 2 years master degree last December (Dec, 2020). My student visa expired on 15th March this year. Currently, I’m not holding any visa. I left Australia on 8th march 2020 and for border closure, could not return to Australia anymore. Should I be eligible for this concession or can I apply for 485 visa?

  • Adriana Andrasova says:

    Hi Jordan,

    I just completed my master degree in July 2021 and my student visa is expiring in September 2021. Due to illness in family, I have to return to my home country shortly.
    Am I able to apply for Post study 485 visa from my home country? If yes, would I have 6 or 12 months to apply? And do I just wait “indefinitely”, until Australia reopens its borders for me to come back here?

    Thank you so much.

    Addy

    • admin says:

      Hi Adriana,
      As it stands, the concession period is still open so the Graduate visa can be applied from overseas.
      You need to apply for it within the ordinary 6 months. You can only have the 12 month extension if you were unable to apply for a Graduate visa within 6 months because you outside Australia for all or part of the period between 1 February 2020 to 19 September 2020.
      Good luck, and let us know if we can help!
      Hannan Tew

  • Abdulhadi says:

    Hi Jordan
    I am about to graduate and my visa is expiring on the 30th of July . I want to apply for postgraduate visa but I haven’t done the ILETS exam can I apply for COVID-19 visa to be lawful and meantime do my ILETS test and withdrawal from Covid 19 vis and apply for the 485 visa?

  • Aniza says:

    I got locked out of Australia during an overseas stay in March 2020 and wasn’t able to return due to border closures, thereofre had to complete my PhD in September 2020 from overseas, my student visa expired in October.
    I understand I am eligible to apply under the 12 months concession.
    My question is, do I now really need to get health insurance for Australia before the application and maintain until they eventually reopen borders, even though I literally cant go there now due to the travel restrictions?

    • admin says:

      Hi Aniza,
      Unfortunately there’s no concessions for the health insurance requirement so as it stands “when the application [is] made, it [must be] accompanied by evidence that the applicant had adequate arrangements for health insurance.”
      All the best,
      Hannan Tew

  • Oshan says:

    I am recently finish my study and already got my graduate letter from university. I am still in australia and due to my father medical condition i am going to my home country. Myflight is on sep 15 and my visa is going to expire on sep 20. Will i be able to apply 485 visa from my home country as i dont want to apply from onshore.

    • admin says:

      Hi Oshtan,
      The COVID concession period is still in force so you should be able to apply offshore (provided you meet all other criteria).
      The concession period is currently still in force.
      Feel free to get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss this in more detail at [email protected].
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • Hendrik says:

    Hi, what if the application window ois literally missed by a day or two, will the visa application just be refused? I only just noticed that the date of my completion email is NOT the same day as my course completion date – apparently it took uni a week to process it. So now I can’t apply?

    • admin says:

      Hi Hendrik,
      That’s a shame!
      Yes, unfortunately even if you miss it by one day you miss out on the Graduate visa.
      You’ll most likely need to look at alternative visa options, but feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you’d like to discuss.
      Hannan Tew

  • Erica says:

    Dear Hannan Tew team, are you aware whether the 12 months concession period for the 485 has ceased? It only mentions 6 months now and the option to apply from overseas, but nothing about 12 months from course completion?

    • admin says:

      Hi Erica,
      The concession period that allowed late applications (i.e. in 12 months instead of 6 months) was only available to applicants who were stuck outside Australia during all or part of the period commencing on 1 February 2020 and ending on 19 September 2020. It was a very limited provision. However, the general concession still applies that individuals can apply for the Graduate visa from offshore.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • Erica says:

    Thanks for the response – to clarify, I was offshore and locked out of Austra for that very duration of time, so if it has been less than 12 months since graduation, can I still apply?

    • admin says:

      Hi Erica,
      If the Minister is satisfied that you were unable to apply within 6 months of the Australian study requirement because you were outside Australia during all or part of the period commencing on 1 February 2020 and ending on 19 September 2020, then you get access to the concession (you can meet the Australian study requirement within the 12 months immediately before the day the application is made).
      Good luck,
      Hannan Tew

  • Daisy says:

    Hi, is the 12 month period still applicable?
    My visa expired in March 2021

    • admin says:

      Hi Daisy,
      The 12 month extension only applies to individuals who satisfy the Minister that they were unable to apply for a Graduate visa within 6 months because they outside Australia for all or part of the period between 1 February 2020 to 19 September 2020 (both days inclusive). Feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you’d like to discuss your circumstances further.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • QIN Yi says:

    Hi Jordan,
    Could you please help me figure it out whether I am eligible for applyiing for the Post-study Work Stream.
    I am an international student from China. I studied my master’s degree course in UNSW, Australia.
    From July 2018 to Dec 2019, I studied for this master’s degree program in UNSW, Australia.
    In Feb 2020, Due to the covid 19, I deferred the study and returned to China.
    Feb 2021 to May 2021, I compleled my following courses for the master’s degree.
    20 May 2021, I completed the all the courses.
    25 Jun 2021, I was issued the degree.

    My student visa expired in September 2020; I did not apply for an extension of the student visa while I deferred the courses.

    I urgently need some of your tips.

    • admin says:

      Hi Qin,
      At first glance, it looks like you might be able to enliven the concession criteria (since your completion date was 20 May 2021).
      Feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you want to discuss your eligibility in more detail.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • Ondrej says:

    Hi Jordan,

    I would like to just clarify the conditions for granting 485 visa offshore. Me and my partner applied for 485 visa in late September 2021. We decided to travel to our home country for Christmas and applied for BVB however only got them for three months. My question is whether we have to come back to Australia before our bridging visa B expire, or whether is it possible to stay home longer and return once our new visa gets granted? Would we be granted 485 visa offshore even though we applied onshore ? Thank you very much and have a great day! – Ondrej

    • admin says:

      Hi Ondrej,
      As the concession period is currently in effect, 485 visas can be granted offshore (even if you applied onshore). However, should the concession period end you would need to be onshore for grant so it’s best you come to Australia within your BVB period to avoid any issues.
      Good luck,
      Hannan Tew

  • Raheem says:

    Hi Jordan,
    My student visa is valid until 30th of March 2022, I have completed my masters degree in November 2021 and applied for 485 on 26th December 2021. I just wanted to know should I take BVB to travel to India on a safer side or is it better to travel on the existing student visa. Secondly, if I don’t come back in the visa timeframe will my 485 be granted offshore? Thank you very much I really appreciate your support.

    • admin says:

      Hi Raheem,
      You wont’ be able to use a BVB to travel to India until your current visa expires (after 30 March 2022).
      To your second question, as the “concession period” is still in effect, your 485 visa may be granted offshore, but that period may be revoked at any time so its best to try and stay in Australia until grant if possible.
      Good luck,
      Hannan Tew

      • Raheem says:

        Hi Jordan,

        Can I travel to India with a return flight before 30th March 2022? Will I be allowed to enter back in Australia on my existing student visa? Thanks.

  • Shahan says:

    Hello

  • Tushar says:

    Hi Hannah,

    I’m currently in Melbourne. I was a student and I have applied for a 485 (reached further assessment stage). I’m on a Bridging A right now.
    I want to travel to India for a few months. Can I leave without applying for a BVB? Because I don’t mind being in India until the end of the year ( or until tourist visas restart). Or is it compulsory to apply for a BVB?

    • admin says:

      Hi Tushar,
      You can leave without a BVB, but in general, in that case you won’t be allowed to return to Australia.
      Best practice is to ensure ensure you have a BVB before you depart Australia.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • Ellen says:

    Hi Jordan,

    I’m currently in Melbourne and I have applied for a subclass 485 visa and am now on a bridging visa A. I plan to go back to my home country soon due to my mother’s medical condition. Is it possible to stay in my home country till my application outcome for subclass 485 visa is finalized? Will my 485 visa application be canceled if I do this?

    Thank you
    Elllen

    • admin says:

      Hi Ellen,
      The current rules are that if you lodged a 485 onshore, you can go offshore and still be granted the Graduate visa during a “concession period”. The concession period doesn’t have an end date at the moment, but the risk is if you go offshore and the concession period is lifted you need to find some other way to return to Australia and obtain the visa grant. If you are going to take the risk, then make sure you apply for a BVB and a travel exemption before going.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • Rakesh Janagani says:

    Hi Jordan
    Iam on bridging visa c of 485 TR now.it’S nearly one year that I have applied for the visa but no response.I have my own sister marriage in India.If I go to india will my entire visa will reject or I’m able to come back to Australia
    Please suggest

    • admin says:

      Hi Rakesh,
      The current rules are that if you lodged a 485 onshore, you can go offshore and still be granted the Graduate visa during a “concession period”. The concession period doesn’t have an end date at the moment, but the risk is if you go offshore and the concession period is lifted you need to find some other way to return to Australia and obtain the visa grant. If you are going to take the risk, then make sure you apply for a BVB and a travel exemption before going.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • Sallison says:

    Hi,
    I graduated with a Bachelor degree in December 2020. I left early before my student visa expired in Feb 2021 & my passport due to expire in 6 months time then. As interstate borders closed i could not travel to renew my passport but returned to my own country due to serious pandemic cases. Am I still eligible to apply for TGV? Thanks

    • admin says:

      HI Sallison,
      At first glance, it looks like you have missed the completion date concession (12 months).
      Feel free to contact us at [email protected] for further assessment.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • Paula says:

    Hi, I just read in your website that if I held a student visa in the last 12 months I can apply for a Temporary Graduate visa. It’s that possible? My visa expired last June and I’m overseas since March 2020. Could I apply to this visa with an Advance Diploma in Leadership and Management? (2 years couse completed)I also have a Bachelor degree from my home country in Business.
    I know that I need to do a proper appointment but I wanna be sure that there is a chance to get this visa first.
    Thanks

    • admin says:

      Hi Paula,
      Two points (a) The concession still requires that you completed your Australian qualifications within the last 12 months (which looks like you didn’t if you finished in March 2020) and (b) the post study stream requires that you completed a Graduate degree or higher in Australia (though may still be able to apply for post work with a lower level course). Your options might be slim, but feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you’d like to discuss further.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • Uber Kalu says:

    Hi,

    My student visa got expired on March 2022 and I applied my 485 from offshore on 16th April 2022. Can I get be granted 485 offshore and what is the time frame of getting a 485 from offshore.

    • admin says:

      Hi Uber,
      Assuming you met other eligibility criteria, you should be eligible for the offshore visa as the concession period is still in effect.
      Processing time is usually 7-12 months.
      Good luck!
      Hannan Tew

  • Uber Kalu says:

    Hi,

    Yes I have met all the eligible criteria.
    Hoping to receive the visa soon

    Best,
    Uber Kalu

  • Rahul says:

    Hi I have completed MPA on 29 oct 2021 but my student visa expires on 18 aug 2021. I have applied for student visa extension with new COE of Masters of IT for march intake. Unfortunately, I have to withdraw that studies because of my illness and I came back to my home country. Am I eligible to apply for TR in any case offshore??

    • admin says:

      Hi Rahul,
      When you say “TR”, I assume you mean apply for temporary residence through the Graduate visa?
      Since it’s been more than 6 months since you completed your studies, you can only use the concession to still apply if you were outside Australia for all or part of the period between 1 February 2020 to 19 September 2020 (both days inclusive). It doesn’t seem like that’s the case, but feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you want to discuss in more detail.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

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