If you about to finish your course the chances are you will be thinking of staying in Australia permanently. In fact this is something you have probably been planning for a long time.
Transition from being a student to permanent residency is not as easy and straightforward as it used to be a couple years ago. Certain criteria were introduced by government in order this process more difficult.

All applicants for student visa regardless of the country of origin or course undertaken have to be considered as ‘genuine temporary entrant’ (GTE) and ‘genuine student’. What that means in short is that after visa grant:

– you will comply with your visa conditions
– you will stay in Australia temporarily and upon completion of your course you will return to your home country.

So does that mean that your pathway to Permanent Residency is closed?

Not necessarily. This is quite blurry area as the Immigration Department on one hand discourages you to spend lengthy periods of time in Australia as a student without a valid reason but at the same time it offers you some legal options to become a Permanent Resident after your course finishes.

Quite often when applying for a student visa you will receive a letter from Immigration Department (or through your agent) where you will be asked to write a letter in which you will have to explain how you think you meet GTE criteria. You should be prepared to provide persuasive reasons in order to be granted a visa.

I am not going into detail about requirements about each visa type as this is not a purpose of this article. Instead I would like to touch up on what main pathways you could follow after you complete your course on student visa.

So once you have had a student visa and your course is about to finish the most popular permanent residence options you have include:

– General Skilled Migration (189/190 points tested visas)

If you are young, have a good English and finished your course in Australia (preferably at Uni) you should not have big problems to obtain a minimum number of 60 points required for either of these visas. This applies even if you have very limited work experience or no experience at all. Having obtained state nomination for visa subclass 190 does help as you get extra 5 points for state nomination.

– Family stream options (mainly partner visa 820/801)

This is quite self-explanatory situation. You might meet a partner or get married with Australian citizen or permanent resident during your studies in Australia. If he or she is willing to sponsor you, after having met certain conditions, you could apply for permanent resident visa.
The advantage of making a valid application for this visa is that you are eligible for bridging visa A with no conditions as long as your application is made in Australia. That means that from day one you might be able to work full time without any restrictions.

– Temporary work visa (generally 457 visa)

Being the most popular Australian temporary work visa, 457 visa can however lead you to permanent residency. If after having spent at least 2 years within one employer they want to offer you permanent role you could be eligible to apply for permanent visa (either 186 ENS or 187 RSMS)

– Temporary Graduate 485 visa

Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) is probably the easiest and very straightforward choice after student visa expiry for anybody who receives a suitable qualification and meet 2 year Australian study requirement.
Although not a permanent visa, it can give you some extra time to improve your work experience in Australia without worrying about work restrictions. At the same time it could give you extra time to prepare paperwork for your permanent visa application.

Obviously Post Study stream with 2+ years of work permission in that visa is much better option that Graduate Work one (up to 1.5 year & compulsory skills assessement) as long as you qualify. This visa was explained further in my earlier post here.

It is quite unlikely for majority of you to meet all requirements for Employer Sponsored visas (subclasses 186/187 in Direct Entry stream) just after completion of your English/Diploma/Bachelor course.
186 ENS visa requires from you minimum 3 years work experience and positive skills assessment is necessary (Direct Entry). For somebody with no previous or limited work experience this can prove very difficult to overcome.

Changing your student visa into one of the visas listed below might be prevented by visa condition on your current visa. Condition 8503 ‘no further stay’ is pretty much a ban on any further visa applications within Australia unless you are able to show that due to exceptional circumstances you should extend your stay.

Other quite nasty conditions include 8534 and 8535 which stop you from applying for any non-student visa. They are quite common in passport holders from countries having assessment level 2-4.

All in all, moving from student visa to permanent residency can be done without big problems when planned well ahead, preferably before you even start your course.