Australia keeps high age limit for research student visas – do not miss these changes!

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs has rolled out major updates to the Temporary Graduate Visa Program, effective from July 1, 2024. One of the notable changes is that the age limit for post-study work visas for research students will remain at 50, while other visa streams will see a lower age limit of 35. 

Background of the Temporary Graduate Visa Program

The Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485) allows international students to live, study, and work in Australia temporarily after completing their studies. This visa is divided into various streams, each catering to different types of graduates. The new changes aim to refine the program, balancing the needs of early-career professionals with those of postgraduate research students.

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Initial Proposal and Feedback

Initially, the Department of Home Affairs planned to lower the age limit to 35 for all Temporary Graduate 485 visa streams, except for Hong Kong and British National Overseas passport holders. It was to support early-career professionals entering the Australian workforce. However, this proposal received substantial feedback highlighting its potential negative impact on postgraduate research students.

Concerns from the Academic Community

The Group of Eight, representing Australia’s leading research-intensive universities, played a significant role in the feedback process. They pointed out that a significant proportion of international PhD students in Australia are over the age of 30. In 2022, about 40% of international PhD students were aged 30 or older, meaning many would be ineligible for a visa under the proposed 35-year age limit by the time they completed their degrees. This feedback led the Department to reconsider its stance for research students.

Final Decision on Age Limits

After thorough consideration, the Department decided to retain the higher age limit of 50 for research students in the Post-Higher Education Work Stream, formerly known as the Post-Study Work Stream. This decision acknowledges the unique career trajectories of PhD graduates and ensures that they are not unfairly excluded from post-study work opportunities in Australia.

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For graduates of taught master’s, bachelor’s, associate degree, and vocational programs, the age limit will still be reduced to 35. This change is intended to encourage younger graduates to enter the workforce promptly and contribute to Australia’s economy.

Adjusted Post-Study Work Rights

The new regulations also bring adjustments to the duration of post-study work rights:

  • Bachelor Degree: 2 years (no change)
  • Master’s by Coursework: 2 years (reduced from 3 years)
  • Master’s by Research: 3 years (no change)
  • PhD: 3 years (reduced from 4 years)

Eligibility for a second temporary graduate visa remains unchanged, but the two-year extension introduced in 2022 will end.

Renaming of Visa Streams

To better reflect the nature of the qualifications and work opportunities, the Department has also renamed various streams:

  • The Post-Study Work Stream is now the Post-Higher Education Work Stream.
  • The Second Post-Study Work Stream is now the Second Post-Higher Education Work Stream.
  • The Graduate Work Stream is now the Post-Vocational Education Work Stream.

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Implications for International Students

These changes have significant implications for international students planning their educational and career paths in Australia. While the reduced age limit aims to facilitate quicker integration of younger graduates into the workforce, maintaining the higher age limit for research students recognizes the extended time and commitment required to complete a PhD.


Australia’s updated Temporary Graduate Visa Program reflects a balance between supporting early-career professionals and acknowledging the unique needs of postgraduate research students. By retaining a higher age limit for research students and adjusting post-study work durations, the Department of Home Affairs aims to create a more equitable and sustainable pathway for international graduates.