When your studies in Australia come to an end, you have a range of options. Most institutions will provide you with information about your options once you have graduated, as well as advice on returning home, migrating and gaining employment. You might choose to do one of the following:
- Complete further studies
- Return to your home country
- Extend your stay in Australia
- Apply for permanent residency
Many international students choose to stay on in Australia to complete further studies or gain a higher qualification (progressing from a bachelor degree to an honours year or masters degree, for example). Continuing your studies will enable you to maximise your time in Australia and gain more advanced qualifications and skills that will assist you in gaining employment. You may choose to continue studying at your current institution or move to a different institution (or even a different city) to try a new experience.
If you wish to continue your studies in Australia, you will need to:
- lodge an application for a new Student Visa from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection before your current visa expires
- make sure you have enough money to continue paying for your studies and living expenses
- extend your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)
- apply for your chosen course by the deadline.
If you do not wish to travel, live or work in Australia after you graduate, you will most likely be returning to your home country. After years of living in Australia, it can be difficult to pack everything up and move. You will need to cancel services such as electricity, bank accounts and your mobile phone account; pay final bills; sell any large items that you can’t take home with you; and (if you are renting) end your lease and hand back the keys.
There are many reasons why international students may wish to stay in Australia after their studies are completed. Visit the Extending Your Stay section of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website for more information.
If you don’t intend on completing further studies, you may wish to extend your time in Australia to work or travel. While you will no longer receive a student visa, there are a range of other temporary visa options that you can apply for through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. You may wish to extend your stay for the following reasons:
- Travel: Many students decide to take a break when they finish their studies before they return home or start looking for a full-time job. Australia is a large, beautiful and diverse country — if you want to spend some time exploring the country, a Tourist Visa is a good option that will let you stay in the country for a period of up to three, six or 12 months. If you wish to work in order to fund your travels, you will need to apply for a Working Holiday Visa (see below).
- Attend your graduation ceremony: Those wishing to stay in Australia to attend their Australian graduation ceremony are also able to apply for a Tourist Visa from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to extend their stay. Many Australian institutions also hold graduation ceremonies overseas, which may allow you to return home after completing your studies and attend a graduation ceremony closer to home.
- Take a working holiday: People aged between 18 and 30 from approved countries are able to apply for a Working Holiday Visa or a Work and Holiday Visa from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, both of which allow you to work and travel in Australia for up to 12 months.
- Continue working for your current employer: If you wish to stay working with your current employer and they are willing to sponsor you either temporarily or permanently through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection's Employer Nomination Scheme, you are able to live and work in Australia for as long as you work for that employer.
- Gain professional work experience: Engineering, accounting and computer science graduates are able to complete a Professional Year Program, which is a structured 12-month program designed to help them develop industry-specific skills through study and work experience. This program is ideal for students who want to qualify for permanent residency in Australia — those who complete a program earn an extra five points in the skilled migrant visa points test.
- Develop your skills: The Department of Immigration and Border Protection's Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485) allows international students to remain in Australia for up to 18 months after they complete their studies to travel, gain work experience or improve their English language skills. This is a good option for students who wish to extend their stay for quite some time and work towards achieving permanent residency. The post-study work stream of this visa allows international students completing an Australian bachelor, masters or doctoral degree to remain in Australia to gain practical work experience after they graduate. Graduates of bachelor and masters by coursework degrees can apply for a two-year work visa at the completion of their degree; masters by research graduates are eligible for a three-year visa; and PhD graduates can apply for a four-year work visa.
Many international students enjoy their time in Australia so much that they apply for permanent residency so they can continue to live and work in Australia. You can express your interest in applying for permanent residency through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection's SkillSelect migration program, which could lead to permanent residency through a Skilled Independent Visa, the Employer Nomination Scheme or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme. For more information, see the Migrating to Australia section.
After having your skills assessed through a points test (resulting in a points score), you may then be invited to apply for a visa. Those students who do not pass the points test or meet the requirements of SkillSelect may be able to complete further studies or apply for one of the temporary visa options above to stay in Australia and develop their skills.