• Charlene Tan

485 VISA CHANGES - STUDENTS AND SKILLED MIGRANTS




In recent weeks, the Australian Government has encouraged international students and skilled immigrants to reconstruct their economies and travel to Australia to make up for the labour shortages affected by COVID19, some temporary visa and immigration systems. Announced changes.


Temporary changes introduced include:

  • Visa application fee refunds

  • Working Hours Flexibility for International Students

  • Employer Flexibility For Working Holidaymakers

  • Skill Flexibility Regional Provisional Visas – Subclasses 489, 491, 494

  • Temporary Graduation Visa Flexibility – Subclass 485


Visa application fee refunds


On January 19, 2022, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the government would reimburse all visa application fees for international students and vacation travellers arriving in Australia within the next eight weeks. Approximately 150,000 international students and 23,500 vacations are staying abroad.


However, they can reduce visa costs and return to Australia, reducing their overall travel expenses in the midst of a pandemic. Visa application costs are currently $630 for international students and $495 for holidays. The visa application fee will be refunded upon arrival in Australia and will be processed by the Ministry of Interior.


"And there are about 150,000 students with visas who are encouraged to return to college or the beginning of the college year. Thank you for coming back and continuing to choose Australia." – Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Press Conference, January 19, 2022.


Working Hours Flexibility for International Students


On January 19, 2022, Immigration Director Alex Hawke announced that he would be more flexible in limiting working hours for international students. Through the COVID 19 pandemic, the government has previously lifted the 20-hour work limit for international students in several major labour sectors. Currently, the 20-hour work limit is temporarily lifted by all international students in all employment departments. This will be reviewed in April 2022. Since the Government announced the reopening of international borders to fully vaccinated individuals who held a valid visa, 43,000 international students have travelled to Australia. This welcomed change gives international students the opportunity to work more hours ensuring greater financial stability whilst supplementing labour shortages.


Due to current workforce shortages, the Government is temporarily… removing the limit on Student visa holders` working hours across all sectors of the economy.” – Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, Joint Media Release, 19 January 2022.



Employer Flexibility For Working Holidaymakers


Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced that there will be no limit on the length of time that Working Holiday Makers can work for the same employer. This applies until the end of 2022. This change will allow Australian companies suffering from labour shortages to continue to hire workers on vacation. This is also a welcome incentive for working holiday enthusiasts to increase employment stability in the uncertainty of the global health crisis.


"In addition, there is no time limit for Working Holiday Makers that will come into effect soon and can work for the same employer until the end of 2022." – Immigration Director Alex Hawk, Joint Media Release, January 19, 2022.


Skill Flexibility Regional Provisional Visas – Subclasses 489, 491, 494


The Government of Australia has extended visa subclasses 489, 491, and 494 for three years to allow holders of temporary regional visas who are eligible for the COVD19 International Travel Ban to enter Australia. This will have a positive impact on 10,000 skilled community workers, giving them ample time to travel or return to Australia and live and work in the community again under a granted visa.


Temporary Graduation Visa Flexibility – Subclass 485

The government has announced that temporary graduation visa-holders affected by COVID 19 travel restrictions may be eligible for visa extensions or extensions until September 30, 2022. Temporary graduation visa holders who are eligible to apply for a visa extension will be notified and will be issued a temporary visa to land and apply for Australia.


  1. Temporary Graduate Extension Eligibility

  • Must have held a Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485) on 15 December 2021

  • The current visa expires prior to 30 September 2022

  • The Visa holder was in Australia at the time of the visa grant and has been outside Australia between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021

  • Visa has not been cancelled and the holder has not been granted a further substantive visa since 15 December 2021

  1. Temporary Graduate Enlivening Eligibility

  • Must have held a Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485) on 15 December 2021

  • The Visa holder was in Australia at the time of the visa grant and has been outside Australia between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021

  • Visa has not been cancelled and the holder has not been granted a further substantive visa since 15 December 2021

  1. 485 visa changes- Graduate Work Stream

  • As a concession during the COVID-19 pandemic, the stay period on the Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa Graduate Work stream, will increase from 18 to 24 months, and application requirements will be streamlined by removing the requirement for graduates to nominate an occupation from the skills occupation list.

  • These changes will be implemented progressively from 1 December 2021 through to 1 July 2022.


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