Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

‘A clear mistake’: Concern as Australia imposes under-35 age limit on graduate visa

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun3,2024
Key Points
  • Australia is set to lower the maximum age for international students applying for a temporary graduate work visa from 50 to 35 years old.
  • The new visa settings are anticipated to take effect from 1 July.
  • Student organisations are voicing apprehension about the reduction in age for Subclass 485 visa applicants, warning that it could deplete talent.
Under the new proposed visa settings, part of the released in December, the maximum eligible age for a will be reduced from 50 to 35.
The government said that it was “repositioning the visa as a product for early career professionals who can contribute to the Australian economy over a longer period”.

“These changes should take effect from 1 July 2024, subject to the passage of legislative amendments,” the government added.

Changes to the Subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate Visa) program

The two TGV streams, will be re-named as Post-higher Education Work and Post-Vocational Education Work streams, respectively.

The maximum age for the applicants for the TGV will be reduced to 35 years, but applicants holding Hong Kong and British National Overseas (BNO) passports can still apply up to the age of 50.


Last year, the federal government unveiled its long-awaited migration strategy, outlining immediate and future steps to overhaul Australia’s “broken” migration system. Credit: Stock Photo

Expanded post-study work privileges enabling students to stay under the visa Subclass 485 for a maximum of eight years will no longer apply and will be reduced to two years for a bachelor’s or master’s degree by coursework and three years for a master’s by research.

However, Hong Kong and British National Overseas passport holders may be able to stay for up to five years.
Stay periods for Indian nationals, as agreed in the  (AI-ECTA), has been kept at two years for bachelor degree (including honours), up to three years for bachelor degree (with first-class honours in STEM, including ICT) and master’s (coursework, extended and research) and up to four years for doctoral degrees (PhD).

Stay periods for Indian nationals, as agreed in the Australian Indian – Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA), have not been altered under the new visa settings announced recently. Credit: Jake Wyman/Getty Images

The will be known as the Second Post-Higher Education Work stream but there are no further changes to this stream, and it maintains its current criteria and benefits.

‘Drastic step and a clear mistake’

Student representative organisations are urging the government to reassess the decision to reduce the age to 35.
They argue that implementing an age restriction on temporary visas for international graduates would adversely affect and undermine Australia’s research capabilities.

“This is clearly a mistake. There should not be an age limit set for Higher Degree Research (HDR) students … There is no reason to exclude them based on age,” Weihong Liang, President of Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association, told SBS Hindi.


Weihong Liang is the President of Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association. Credit: Supplied by Weihong Liang

“If we do not have a good post-study visa that allows for a stay of around 4-5 years, the most outstanding individuals may choose not to come here at all, or they may finalise their departure to the US, Hong Kong, Singapore or Europe before graduating,” Liang added.  

The Australian National University Students’ Association (ANUSA) also described the proposed change to the age limit as “an arbitrary and drastic change”.
“It will impact many international students but most acutely the HDR community. The age limit disproportionately impacts HDR students, many of whom begin their research degrees in their 30s,” ANUSA said.

“Recent research found that almost half of HDR candidates with visas were over the age of 30,” it noted.


In the 2022-23 financial year, the higher education sector received more than 273,000 visa applications, with over 71,000 originating from India. Source: Press Association

Earlier this year, a urging the government to review the decision to change the age limit.

“This particular proposal, if implemented, will severely reduce the ability to attract high-value international students to Australia, especially those coming to do Post-Graduate and Research Courses (Masters and PhD students),” the petition said.
However, Abul Rizvi, former immigration secretary, feel the proposed change is only going to affect a small portion of international students.

“The vast bulk of students are 35 or under so the change should not affect a large portion of students,” Rizvi said told SBS Hindi.

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“The risk of continuing to grant the Subclass 485 to people over 35 is that they may not secure a skilled job to be sponsored for an employer sponsored visa or nominated for a state nominated visa. That would leave them in immigration limbo,” Rizvi said.
Migration agent Vaibhav Patel claimed that around 30 per cent of his clients applying for the 485 visa were students over 35 years old.
“Many students are already panicking and have inquired about the implications of the age requirement change since Monday’s announcement,” he said, adding that “the move will impact 100 per cent of PhD students”.

Based on the official data, more than 9,000 visas were applied for in the post-research sector, including 931 originating from India, during the 2022-23 period.

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In the 2022-23 financial year, the higher education sector received more than 273,000 visa applications, with over 71,000 originating from India.
The 485 visa enables students who have completed specific degrees to acquire work experience in Australia post-graduation. Additionally, it provides a route towards obtaining a permanent visa.
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Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “‘A clear mistake’: Concern as Australia imposes under-35 age limit on graduate visa”
  1. Do you think the new age limit for the graduate work visa in Australia will negatively impact the talent pool in the country?

  2. As a recent graduate myself, I find this age restriction utterly disappointing. It’s crucial to embrace diversity in the workforce and limiting opportunities based on age is a clear mistake. Students of all ages bring valuable skills and perspectives.

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