The key to getting full-time employment in Australia after graduation

The Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) is an important option for international students in Australia. It offers eligible international students the opportunity to work full-time after finishing their studies. Besides, this visa is also attractive because it provides an opportunity or at least an expectation in regards to a pathway to permanent residency.

As the Knight Report (1) shows 'there will always be a link between study and migration – even if only in the minds of prospective students'. In this line, it is important to highlight that, although some might argue that there is a strong perception that migrants could be responsible for 'taking jobs' of Australian, there is no substantial evidence to support the claims.

When thinking about your professional future in Australia, it is crucial to understand the prospects of employment.

Temporary Graduate Employability

In regards to employability for 485 visa holders, the Economic Opportunities and Outcomes of Post-Study Work Rights paper (2) suggests that almost three-quarters of temporary graduate visa holders report being employed either full-time (44%) or part-time (30%).

The study also shows that 'over 1-in-5 are unemployed and looking for work (10%) or are not participating in the labour market; that is, not looking for work (12%)'.

Research from Flinders University (3) found that about 15% of overseas graduates got a full-time job within four months after graduation. The numbers are low if compared to domestic graduates, over 50% find full-time work.

Other reports also support the idea that many of the 485 visa holders are not able to secure work that is aligned with their long-term professional goals.

As mentioned previously, 12% of temporary graduates are not in the labour force, which represents a high proportion when considering that the primary goal of the Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) is to provide visa holders with the opportunity of work. Moreover, it is important to consider Australia's national unemployment rate, which is at 5.3%, as per September 2019.

Industry of Employment

Bachelor degree holders from agriculture, education and architecture are more likely to secure fulltime employment. However, engineering, science, and management and commerce graduates are less likely to secure full-time employment. Engineering and management and commerce graduates from master degree level programs are similarly less likely to secure full-time employment. The low rates of full-time employment for graduates of these two fields of study is a particular concern given that they represent the top two fields of study for international students and subsequent temporary graduate visa holders.

Temporary graduate visa holders are employed across a range of diverse industry sectors. A large proportion are employed in the accommodation and food services (17%) and retail trade (15%) sectors, but there are also significant numbers employed in professional, scientific and technical services (14%), health care and social assistance (11%), administrative and support services (6%) and education and training (6%).

- Chew, J. (2019), ‘Economic opportunities and outcomes of post-study work rights in Australia’, International Education Association of Australia.

The report quoted above also suggests that most international students continue employment in the same occupation in which they were working during their studies. This supports the idea that your current job is most likely your future job.

Critical Points

There are important studies concerning temporary graduates in Australia; however, it is not possible to understand all the factors that may lead to the outcomes mentioned previously. That being said, a few critical points need to be considered in regards to the challenges faced by 485 visa holders.

  • Often, graduates with a Temporary Graduate visa present a gap of relevant experience in Australia that is aligned with their areas of study.

International students spend an average of two years studying in a degree, however, during that time and considering the cost of living, many students end up finding casual jobs unrelated to their professional aspirations. This results in a gap of meaningful work that is aligned to their areas of study. Therefore, when they are granted a Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485), which gives them full-time working rights, these students face the reality of not having relevant professional experience in their fields.

  • Companies lack understanding of post-study work rights.

Many employers are not aware of the 485 visa and its benefits. In this line, many recruiters require permanent resident status or citizenship; however, 485 visa holders are eligible to work without restriction, and in most of the cases for at least two years, which is a reasonable amount of time and should not be an issue for hiring.


The challenges mentioned above are supported by research, in the meaning that relevant work experience while studying improves employability after graduation. Thus, working in your desired industry during your studies will likely improve your chances of a career progression within that field after graduation.

The best predictor of future employment is current employment.


(1) Department of Home Affairs (2011), ‘Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program 2011’, accessed at

(2) Chew, J. (2019), ‘Economic opportunities and outcomes of post-study work rights in Australia’, International Education Association of Australia (IEAA), retrieved from

(3) Karmel, T., Carroll, D., and Fitzpatrick, D. (2016), How are new overseas graduates faring in the labour market?, National Institute of Labour Studies, Flinders University.