18 June 2012

Australia visa for graduating students

The Gillard government has announced plans to grant all overseas students graduating from the country's universities will be granted an Australia visa which will allow them to work in any occupation for up to four years.

Australia visa

As of next year, all foreign students graduating from Australian universities will be granted an Australia visa.

To qualify for an Australia visa, overseas students will be required to have competent English skills, health insurance and meet any health or security requirements said Immigration Minister Chris Bowen. The scheme will potentially allow every foreign student in Australia, currently 220,000, to remain in the country.

Mr Bowen said it would help the country's international education industry, which is currently worth AU$18 billion (£11.6 billion) to expand.

The scheme has faced staunch opposition from workers' unions and trade organisations who have protested the use of foreign labour in the country’s ongoing resources boom and claim Australian immigration is limiting opportunities for Australian citizens.

Mr Bowen argues that the scheme will not affect skilled occupations.

"These arrangements are not linked to skilled migration so applicants for this visa would not be required to nominate an occupation on the skilled occupation list or undertake a skills assessment," said a spokesperson for the minister.

"The government will reserve the capacity to modify arrangements in future according to economic and employment circumstances."

The system already in place allows foreign students to remain in the country and work for up to 18 months after graduation but is currently limited to those students graduating in medicine, engineering, architecture, accounting, teaching and trades based courses; all other graduates must leave the country within a month of graduating.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian High Commission.

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