Find your new direction

  • 1300 76 2221
  • Australian owned and operated since 2008
study advice for australian migration

Study Advice for Migration to Australia

If you’re an international student wanting to live and work in Australia there are some study pathways that may lead to in-demand occupations; however, it pays to study to your strengths and interests. Three Australian migration agents tell us why.


Ariel Brott, Accredited Specialist Immigration Lawyer & Registered Migration Agent at Global Mobility Immigration Lawyers, Melbourne.


“Predicting what occupations will have greatest employment and migration opportunities upon graduation is a bit like predicting the weather,” says Brott. “These things change constantly, and the further out we are projecting – for example after a three-year course – the less accurate those predictions become”.


“Be aware that student visas are subject to a “genuine temporary entrant” criterion. This means that if Immigration concludes that your primary purpose for applying for a student visa is to obtain a permanent migration outcome, the visa may be refused. That said, your intentions could legitimately change later so there is no harm in being aware of pathways to permanent residence.”


“When assessing the “genuine temporary entrant” criterion, one of the things Immigration will look at is the relevance of the proposed study to your previous studies or experience, so this may affect your choice of course, if you are unable to justify moving in a completely new direction.”


A prospective student wanting to keep their options open should consider:


  1. What do you want to do? Study can potentially take many years, as can some pathways to permanent residence, and a career may last a lifetime. It’s generally best not to choose a course solely based on its migration potential.


  1. If you wish to understand more about occupations which are currently considered most in demand, refer to the following:


  1. Immigration publishes a “combined list” of occupations eligible for various visas. Pay attention to occupations marked MLTSSL (Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List) which have greater eligibility for permanent residence.


  1. If you wish to refine the options even further, it’s worth looking at the various state/territory occupation lists, for state/territory sponsored visas – the lists vary according to the needs of the respective state/territory at any given time. These can be found at the relevant state/territory websites:


Australian Capital Territory

New South Wales

Northern Territory


South Australia



Western Australia


  1. Once you have created a shortlist of occupations of interest, you can cross-reference those occupations against the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (“ANZSCO”):


ANZSCO sets out the basic requirements Immigration will look at for any given occupation – in particular, what level of qualification (and/or years of experience) will be required.


Immigration will also apply additional criteria, as may the state/territory bodies referred to above (for state/territory sponsored visas), as well as the various skills assessment bodies connected to each occupation (combined list” of occupations) for some visas.


  1. Where possible, try to get a couple of years of full-time post-qualification experience in your chosen occupation before coming to Australia to study. This will make it infinitely easier to get a job and to progress to occupational visas (if you so wish) once you have completed any studies in Australia. While experience will enhance prospects for most occupational visas, from March 2018 in particular, two years’ experience will become compulsory for the most common employer-sponsored visa.


Joanne Baldwin, Immigration Lawyer and Migration Agent at Kite Union Migration.

“The best ways to overcome the barriers to migration from an individual’s perspective (when it comes to the skilled visa program) is to ensure they are as qualified and experienced as possible in the area in which they are or aim to be specialised,” says Joanne.

Baldwin says degrees are important to obtain a skilled visa and points gained are higher than those available for a diploma or the qualifications for employer sponsored visas.

“When it comes to choosing the subject to study, I would suggest that primarily they identify a subject that interests them as they have to pass the course to get the required qualification.”

“Managing course options based on the current occupations in demand or on the MLTSSL/STSOL could be a mistake as those lists will be changing every six months and what is in demand today may not be once a student has graduated,” she says.

“International students should aim to achieve the best qualifications they can for the best chance to move onto an Australian skilled visa,” she says.


Leanne Stevens, Migration Agent and CEO of Emergico Migration

“I’m always hesitant to recommend people study courses with the intention of obtaining a migration outcome,” says Leanne Stevens. “Migration law changes so often and without notice, that people are likely to become disappointed.”

Stevens explains that just because an occupation is on a list now, once a qualification has been completed and a person has the requisite work experience to qualify for an employer sponsored visa, the occupation may no longer be in demand or have a favourable pathway.

“The work experience required to qualify for an employer sponsored visa is a minimum of two years from March 2018 – even for a temporary work visa,” she says.

“In April 2017 we saw around 178 occupations slashed from the list overnight; and a commitment to six monthly reviews of the list. It doesn’t make it easy for a person to plan,” says Stevens.