International students with an IT degree may be able to keeping working in the country for an extra two years after their studies finish under changes to the migration system that started on 1 July.
Students with specific degrees may be eligible to waive the minimum $1,730 application charge for the post-study work visa.
The extension to the post-study stream of the Temporary Graduate visa was announced earlier this year with Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil saying it “benefits us all” to have international students stay in Australia longer.
“After a lost decade on immigration and skills, we are looking for ways to utilise skilled migrants via enhanced training and better targeted, less exploitative programs for temporary visa workers and students,” she said.
Students and people already on the post-study work visa will need to apply online for the extended two-year visa.
Last month, the government finalised its full list of university degrees that would qualify for a free two-year visa extension.
The list featured a total of 3,264 bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD programs from Australian universities.
Of those, more than 575 are related to IT including degrees in artificial intelligence, cyber security, data science, enterprise resource management, software engineering, and business analytics.
Qualifications were determined based on the National Skills Commission’s Skills Priority List.
Out of the 29 IT-related occupations on that list, all but six are classified as having a national shortage and most are marked as areas with strong future demand.
The government is still preparing its reform changes to the migration system that a recent government-commissioned review described as “broken” and “neither fast nor efficient”.
There are other migration changes that began on 1 July, including an increase to the temporary skilled migration income threshold from $53,900 to $70,000.
Most importantly for international students, however, is the re-introduction of limits on work hours.
Student visa holders will now only be able to work for 48 hours a fortnight while class is in session as the government puts an end to its restriction-free student work program that started in January 2022.
Any international students who were already working in the aged care sector on 9 May 2023 will be allowed to keep working unrestricted hours in that sector until the end of this year.
The restrictions are landing at a time of increasing cost-of-living pressures – especially when it comes to housing – that recent news reports have shown is having a severe impact on Australia’s international student population.
Some students have been sharing beds with strangers for a few hours a night on a rotating shift basis, commonly called ‘hot-bedding’, to get cheaper rent.
Student advocates are worried that the re-introduced student work cap will create more housing and cost-of-living stress for international students who come here in search of education.
In NSW, the government is encouraging universities to shoulder some of the burden for housing with state Housing Minister Rose Jackson telling the Sydney Morning Herald that universities “absolutely do have a role to play to ensuring students have adequate housing”.