The 485 Visa Extension – what you need to know


In November 2020, the Australian Immigration Office passed an amendment on the 485 Temporary Graduate visa extension. The new policy has taken effect on 20th January 2021, which means applicants who meet the requirements can apply for 485 visa extension from 20th January 2021.

The introduction of this new policy will offer international students 1-2 years’ additional stay in Australia, where they can gain work experience for their immigration preparation. What exciting news!

But who can apply for the 485 visa extension? What are the conditions for visa extension? Are you eligible to apply for a 1-year or 2-year extension? Keep reading to find out!

Let’s first read more about the 485 visa extension policy; click the link below to head to the Australia Government Federal Register of Legislation website:

As you can see, it clearly points out that eligible applicants for the 485 visa extension must be under the Post Study Work (PSW) Stream and have two years study experience in a designated city, major regional centre, regional centre or other regional areas. 

The definition of regional places given by the Immigration Office is:

A designated city or major regional centre means Perth, Adelaide, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, Wollongong/Illawarra, Canberra, Geelong, and Hobart.  These are the well known cities among international students, however a regional centre or other regional area means all other areas of regional Australia.

Essentially, anywhere in Australia other than Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane would fit into one of these categories. Applicants can apply for a visa extension if they can provide proof that they have completed at least two years of work or study in a designated city or regional centre.

It should be noted that the phrase “at least two years”, mentioned by the Immigration Office, means that applicants who did not meet this requirement are not eligible for the 485 visa extension. For instance, if you studied a master’s degree in Sydney for one year, and then transferred to a university in a regional place, completing your master’s degree after another year’s study, you are not eligible for 485 visa extension because you studied in a regional place for one year only, which failed to meet the “at least two years” requirement.

So, does that mean the new policy is useless to students in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane?

Not at all! Graduates from any of these three cities can apply for a two-year 485 Temporary Graduate Visa (PSW Stream) to study another program in a regional place during the two-year period. They can then accumulate work experience to prepare for their immigration at the same time.

Basically, graduates can meet the two-year study requirement in a regional place, and be eligible to apply for the visa extension by the time their first 485 visa expires.

Some students might be concerned that the tuition fee for another two-year course, coupled with their living expenses, would be unaffordable. At AIBT, we have a variety of cost-effective programs, designed to ensure students meet the two-year study requirement and gain extra professional skills at the same time.

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Now we’ll look a bit deeper at the requirements for the 485-visa extension.

As you can see, the 485 visa extension is only eligible to graduates with the PSW Stream. Those with the Graduate Work stream are not eligible and cannot apply for 485 visa extension.

The Immigration Office also granted different lengths of visa extension towards different regions. Let’s take a look.

Applicants who finished two years of study in regional centre or regional area can apply for a 485 visa extension valid for two years.

Applicants who finished two years of study in designated regional areas such as Perth, Adelaide, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Canberra, New Castle/ Lake Macquarie, Wollongong/Illawarra, Geelong, and Hobart, are only eligible for a 485 visa extension valid for one year.

The Immigration Office defines “designated regional area” as all the areas beyond Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, which means a 485 visa obtained by applicants who have studied for two years outside those three cities can be extended for 1 year.

You can refer to the picture to check which region you belong to to calculate how many years extension you are eligible for.

The 485 visa extension is only valid for domestic submission, which is a blow to overseas applicants who cannot enter Australia due to the effects of the COVID-19. As shown below:  

The amendment of the 485 visa extension aims to encourage more international students to study and work in remote areas in Australia, which will afford both economic and social benefits to regional communities. Applicants must promise that they will continue to live and work or study in a regional Australia after obtaining the visa extension; otherwise, the extended visa will be at risk of being cancelled. See below:

Now let’s summarise the key points we’ve gone through:

  1. The amendment regulation of 485 Temporary Graduate visa extension is only valid for graduates under the PSW Stream, and it does not apply to the Graduate Work Stream.
  2. Applicants must complete two years of study in regional Australia before submitting their visa extension application.
  3. The 485 visa extension is valid for domestic submission only, not overseas submission.
  4. Applicants must promise to live and work or study in regional Australia after obtaining the extended 485 visa; otherwise it might lead to a visa cancellation.

As a private college with some of the best facilities in Australia, AIBT is equipped with simulated labs, engineering workshops, and training restaurants in all three campuses (Brisbane, Sydney, and Hobart).

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*The information within this post is correct at the time of publication. For the most up to date information please refer to the Australian Government’s Home Affairs website. AIBT does not commit to securing migration or education assessment outcomes for overseas students. We strongly advise that you consult with a registered migration agent if you require more specific information.

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