The below questions and answers provide guidance about the new COVID-19 Concessions for Skilled Graduate (Subclass 485) visa applicants. The questions and answers should be read in conjunction with all visa requirements.
Am I eligible for a COVID-19 Concession?
If you are an applicant for a Skilled Graduate (Subclass 485) visa and you have been disadvantaged by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as border closures you may be eligible for a COVID-19 Concession.
The amendments made to the legislation provide concessions to assist international students and allow them to obtain a visa to return to Australia when travel restrictions are lifted. These new changes cater for international students who completed their studies in Australia but were unable to lodge their Subclass 485 visa because they had left the country and were unable to return due to travel restrictions.
What is the COVID-19 Concession period?
The COVID-19 concession period commences from 1 February 2020 and is an interim arrangement to support certain temporary and provisional visa holders, who have been disadvantaged by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The end date to this concession period has yet to be determined.
I completed my studies in Australia but I am now offshore; can I apply and be granted a Graduate visa?
Yes. The new concessions allow international students who are currently offshore to apply and be granted a Subclass 485 visa during the concession period.
If you make your application outside the concession period, you will need to be in Australia to apply and be granted a Subclass 485 visa.
My student visa expired while I was offshore, and I have not been able to return to Australia; can I lodge a Subclass 485 visa while offshore?
Yes. The new legislation amends allow Graduate visa applications to be made outside Australia during the concession period without the usual requirement to have held a student visa within the six months immediately before making the visa application.
I completed my studies in Australia more than 6 months ago; can I still lodge a Subclass 485 visa?
Yes. If you were offshore during all or part of the period from 1st February 2020 to 19 September 2020, you have 12 months from the day of completion of the eligible qualification to make your Graduate visa application. This concession applies to former students who were unable to make their visa application within the 6 months immediately after finishing their qualification because they were offshore.
You can make your application while you are offshore.
What happens if my Subclass 485 visa is granted but I cannot return to Australia?
You should be able to return to Australia before your visa expires.
If you apply for a visa in the Graduate Work stream you should be granted a visa with 18 months' validity. If you apply for a visa in the Post-Study Work stream, depending on your qualification, you should be granted a 2 to 4-year visa.
The visa period will run from the date of entry to Australia. This means that once your visa is granted, you will have at least 18 months to enter Australia so if travel restrictions remain in place for a longer period, you will not be disadvantaged because your visa will commence on the date of first entry and not from visa grant.
Read more about the COVID-19 concessions.