Accessing Untapped Markets to Win the War for Talent

Posted by GradConnection

According to the McCrindle Future of Education 2021 Report, international students accounted for 32% of all higher education students in Australia – that could translate to just over a third of the future workforce. Given the impending disruptions of the ‘big resignation’ and baby boomers exiting the workforce, it’s more imperative than ever to strengthen your talent pipeline with graduate hires. By not tapping into international students, you could be missing out on a crucial and rapidly growing part of the market. 

The Process in a Nutshell 

Many employers are often daunted by the prospect of dealing with visas, sponsorships and legal requirements. Here is a brief breakdown of what you will be likely to encounter during the process of hiring an international student for a graduate position. Remember that this is a rough guide only and that requirements will differ for each individual on a case-by-case basis pending current visa legislation.

Internships, Part-Time and the Hiring Process – Student Visa 500  

During the hiring and offer process, students are likely to still be on their Student Visa 500 whilst finishing up their studies at university.  With this visa, students are only permitted to work 40 hours per fortnight which employers should ensure they strictly record and adhere to. This is also relevant for those who want to hire international students for part-time work or internships.  

Commencement of Graduate Roles - Bridging Visa → Temporary Graduate Visa 485 

Once students have been hired for their graduate roles, they will usually be eligible for a Temporary Graduate Visa 485, which will allow them to stay for up to 4 years depending on their selected stream and qualifications (see table below) This requires no sponsorship from the employer, however graduates will likely be on a bridging visa while they wait for their application process to go through. Nevertheless, this visa provides a great opportunity for companies to employ someone at a graduate level. 

 Graduate Work StreamPost – Study Work Stream Second Post – Study Work Stream 
QualificationsRecently graduated with skills and qualifications as indicated on the skilled occupation list. Recently graduated with a CRICOS-registered degree from an Australian institution. For holders of a first Temporary Graduate Visa in the post-study work stream who graduated with a degree from an Australian institution located in a regional area. 
Stay Period Up to 18 months 2 – 4 years 1 – 2 years (dependent) 
Processing Time 

75% of applications: 9 months 

90% of applications: 13 months 

75% of applications: 8 months 

90% of applications: 10 months 


Table based on information from the Department of Home Affairs

After 2-3 Years 

Upon completion of their graduate program, international grads can then apply for either the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa 482 or Permanent Residency depending on their length of stay. The Visa 482 will require sponsorship from the employer and requires the grad to be on the relevant skilled migrants list, which may also have minimum salary requirements.  

Alternatively, the grad could qualify for Permanent Residency, which could also be an employer sponsored and driven process, OR completed and financed independently by the candidate with no employer links. 

Expectations vs Reality 

Here are some common concerns and myths that we can help bust and provide strategies for.  

If I employ an international student they might just want to return home after a few years. International students have most likely already spent at least 3 years studying here in Australia. Their existing commitment means that they will probably be even more eager, enthusiastic and dedicated to staying with your company for longer and end up boosting your graduate retention rates. 
I’m worried about potential language barriers coming up. Again, their extensive schooling to get to this stage means international students have already developed a high level of English language competency. Passing various language tests are also a part of their requirement to obtain a student visa.  
The visa application process is too difficult and high risk. 

While it might be true that the process is often long and unpredictable, this doesn’t mean that it can’t also be incredibly rewarding and more than manageable if you take the right steps to mitigate potential issues. This could include: 

  • Keeping a strict time sheet for students on visas that have restricted working hours - the onus is on the company to have accurate and complete records. It's also a good idea to double check that students don’t have an additional casual job on the side that could be adding to the count! 
  • Periodically checking in with the candidate that required visas are valid and current with evidence through the VEVO system. 
  • Ensure that your legal contracts for international students are different than those you offer domestic students. They must be according to their intended visa e.g. An initial Fixed-Term Contract for 18 months with possibility to extend if need be. 
  • Offer a sign-on bonus for students to cover their visa costs
I’m concerned about cultural differences and them not fitting into the company. International students have the potential to bring incredibly diverse and innovative insights into the company. In an increasingly globalised market, they could bring strengths in multilingual communication, as well as new ways of working and ideas to approaching the business.  

Overall, this is just a quick guide to help with your consideration of international students, but we strongly recommend to check in with your company’s global mobility team and visa specialists to confirm the correct, most up to date requirements and legislation. 


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