Meeting the Australian Study Requirement - Complex Scenarios

webster By Mark Webster
Monday, 22 August 2016

The Australian Study (previously called the "2-Year Study") Requirement is important for a two main reasons:

  1. Eligibility for the Graduate Temporary Subclass 485 Visa. The Graduate Temporary visa is a highly beneficial visa which allows students to stay on in Australia after completion of their studies and improve their eligibility for permanent residence.
  2. Points for General Skilled Migration: points are available for meeting the basic 2-year study requirement, and also for completing a qualification in a regional area taking 2 years

The Australian Study Requirement can be complicated to assess in some cases - this article explains some of the finer points when it comes to meeting this requirement.

Registered Duration 2 Academic Years

The most critical factor is to determine how long the course is registered for on CRICOS - the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students.

To meet the requirement, the studies must be registered for 92 weeks or more.

This requirement gets complicate where:

  • Your course registration has changed; or
  • Your course is no longer listed on CRICOS
In both scenarios, extra documentation from your provider may be required to establish your eligibility.

Exemptions and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

In the situation where a student gets exemptions from previous studies or Recognition of Prior Learning, this would previously have been a major factor in meeting the 2-year study requirement.

However, after the Federal Court case of Riaz & Anor v Minister for Immigration & Anor [2013] FCCA 2244 (20 December 2013), RPL or previous studies, whether undertaken in Australia or overseas, do not affect the 2-year study requirement.

Providing the course or courses completed are registered for at least 92 weeks, the student would meet the "2 Academic Years" requirement, even if they did not spend the normal duration completing the course due to exemptions or RPL.

The main proviso to this is that legislation also requires the student to have taken at least 16 months between commencement and completion of the qualification(s).

Eligible Qualifications

Only certain qualifications can count towards the Australian study requirement, namely:
  • Trade Certificates: qualifications at the Certificate III level or higher in an occupation in Major Group 3 of ANZSCO
  • Diplomas or Advanced Diplomas - under Departmental Policy this now includes Associate Degrees
  • Degrees - this includes Bachelor Degrees, Graduate Diplomas, Masters and PhDs

The following qualifications would not normally be counted towards the 2-year study requirement:

  • Qualifications at the Certificate II level or lower in a Trade Occupation
  • Qualifications at the Certificate IV which are not in a Trade Occupation
  • Graduate Certificates

Note that for the Post Study Work stream of the 485 visa, you can only count Bachelor Degrees, Masters and PhDs.

Counting More than One Qualification

It is possible to count more than one qualification towards the Australian study requirement, providing they are all "eligible" qualifications as noted above.

This would even be the case if you have had a long break between your studies.

In general, the qualifications do not need to be relevant to your nominated occupation - the main exception to this is the Graduate Work Stream of the 485 visa - in this case all qualifications must be "closely related" to your nominated occupation.

Packaged or Nested Qualifications

It is relatively common for a series of qualifications to be packaged together to result in a trade qualification or diploma. The lower qualifications may not be eligible qualifications, but the time spent studying can usually be counted towards the 2-year study requirement.

A common example is where a student completes a Certificate II, Certificate III, Certificate IV and Diploma of Business. If each qualification is registered for 26 weeks, this would give a total of 104 weeks of registered study, assuming the course is packaged or nested. This would be the case even though the Certificate II, III and IV are not "eligible" qualifications.


The 2-year study requirement can be very complex - getting it right can be critical to your success in obtaining your permanent residency or 485 visa.

If you would like detailed advice on your situation, please Book a Consultation with one of our advisors.

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