Australia's Skilled Graduate visa scheme to be expanded

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International students studying in Australia will in future be eligible to apply for work visas lasting two to four years after they graduate from an Australian university under immigration rules to be introduced next year.

Currently, foreign students who have graduated with a degree in medicine, engineering, architecture, accounting, teaching and trades based courses can apply to remain in the country and work for up to 18 months after graduation. Under the new visa rules, all graduates will be able to apply for the Skilled Graduate visa allowing them to work in any occupation for up to four years.

This means, the new rules would allow all graduates, regardless of their field of study, to remain in Australia and work in any job once they graduate. Graduates with a bachelor's degree will be able to receive a visa for two years, graduates with a master's degree can stay for three years, and graduates with a doctorate will receive visas for four years.

Eligible applicants will need to show they have competent English skills, health insurance, and must pass health, character and security requirements. Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the expansion of the Skilled Graduate visa scheme would "help to enhance the competitiveness" of Australia's student industry which is currently worth AU$18 billion.

"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," a spokeswoman for Bowen said. "The government will reserve the capacity to modify arrangements in future according to economic and employment circumstances."

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