‘Post Study Work’ stream vs ‘Graduate’ Stream

You came to Australia just to do your degree, but somewhere along the way, Australiabecame your home. The Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa was created just for you.

The graduate 485 visa has the following basic requirements:

  • Meet the minimum English proficiency level
  • Satisfying the Australian study requirement (ASR) of 92 weeks (2 years) of academic study
  • Did not previously hold a Skilled-Recognised Graduate (subclass 476) visa or a Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa

There are two streams to the graduate visa; graduate and post study. Knowing the difference might make a difference to your plans so let’s discuss the two.


Graduate work stream


The main thing to note with the graduate work stream is the need for you to have studied a course that is closely related to an occupation on the skilled occupation list (SOL) . To be granted this visa, you will need to produce a suitable skills assessment, meet minimum English requirements and have satisfied the Australian study requirement (ASR).


English requirements  


*Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) tests must have been taken on or after 1 January 2015

The graduate work stream 485 visa is only valid for 18 months, which is a little more time restricted than the post study work stream.


Post study work stream


The Post Study Work Stream (PSWS) was introduced in March 2013 and provides a bit of a better deal. It is however, only applicable to those whose first student visa was applied for and granted after 5 November 2011; that should be most of you. You will need to have completed a  Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate qualifications in Australia. Unlike the graduate stream, there is no need to nominate an occupation on the SOL. As such, your course would not affect your eligibility. This also means that you will not need to do a skills assessment.

The only caveat is that in meeting the ASR for the post study work stream is a more complex; youwill need to have satisfied the ASR but also have done so at an Australian Qualification Framework (AFQ) level 7 or higher.

AFQ Level 7      Bachelor Degree
AQF Level 8      Bachelor Honours Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma
AQF Level 9      Masters Degree
AFQ Level 10    Doctoral Degree

Earlier we mentioned, that the only eligible qualifications for the post study stream 485 visa include Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorates. Graduate Certificates and Graduate Diplomas arenot included in this list. According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s (DIBP’s) Procedure Advice Manual (PAM):


“The intention of 485.231(1) and the associated instrument is to support the policy objective that international students who undertake a Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma course which articulates into, or is nested in, a Bachelor or Masters Degree be eligible for the Post-Study Work stream provided they ultimately complete an eligible qualification. “


What this means is that study of a Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma can be counted toward the PSWS 485 ASR requirements, only when transfer credits towards a Masters degree (of a minimum of 92 weeks CRICOS registration) has been authorised by the university.

Things are straightforward for those who are simply on a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate and study for over 2 years in Australia. However, if you were to be taking a 2 year Diploma that provides you with enough credits to complete your Bachelor’s in 1 year, you would not have satisfied the ASR for the post study work stream as you would not have completed 2 years at an AFQ level 7 or higher.

Other than length of courses taken, it also depends on the courses taken and credits given (if any). For example, a student who has completed a year in a Graduate Diploma in Engineering (AFQ level 8) and received credits from his Graduate Diploma, allowing him to finish a Master of Engineering (eligible qualification) within a year, will have been taken to have satisfied 2 years of study at AFQ level 7 or higher and is eligible for the post study work stream. That Masters of course must have been registered for at least 92 weeks if this is the qualification relied upon to meet the ASR.

However, if a student were to have taken a year in a Graduate Certificate in Teaching (AFQ level 8) and completed a 1.5 year Master’s course in Marketing, the student would not be eligible for the post study work stream despite having completed 2.5 years of study in Australia at AFQ level 7 or higher. This is because the Graduate Certificate would be not considered as “having articulated to or nested in” the Master’s and would not be counted toward the ASR requirement. The student would only have been taken to have done 1.5 years in the Master’s course. Confused? Granted, it’s does get a bit tricky. We strongly urge you to speak with a migration agent in such situations.

If you have a Bachelor’s or Master’s by coursework, your post study work stream 485 visa has a validity of 2 years. 3 years, for those who have completed Master’s by research, and 4 years for those with Doctorates.

The post study work stream excludes those who do not have higher education qualifications, but the graduate work stream does not. If you haven’t managed to fulfil the more stringent ASR requirements on the post study work stream, you may still have the graduate stream to fall on.

Don’t get these two streams mixed up! On application for a graduate 485 visa, you will berequired to select a stream. This choice cannot be altered once the application has been lodged. If you tick the wrong stream then your visa maybe refused.

The temporary graduate visa does not offer any clear pathway to permanent residency in Australia but gives students an opportunity to stay in Australia and gain work experience or do a Professional Year Programme (PYP) . With work experience in a role highly related to that of an occupation on the SOL or a PYP, an applicant could only then apply for the required skills assessment for a general skilled migration visa.


Otherwise, the applicant might find themselves sponsorship from an employer.

A graduate 485 visa must be applied for within 6 months of upon the completion of the course. Completion date is defined as the date all course requirements were met. This would be the date final exam results were published or the date provided on a notice of course completion. Processing times for graduate 485 visas have recently become significantly longer but for many this will mean a longer period they can work! Also do not lodge your 485 visa earlier then necessary for you may loose a few valuable months of work permission.

Well there you go! Good luck and remember to consult with a migration agent should you be unsure of your eligibility for either stream. With such a long processing time, it would be awful to receive a refusal after waiting for a year due to something like picking the wrong stream.