7 tips to avoid a 485 visa refusal

Most international students would apply for a 485 visa (commonly known as a TR) at some stage of their stay in Australia.

Some students try to save money and lodge this visa by themselves and get rejected due to mistakes made in the application. There are plenty of reasons an application for a 485 visa could be refused.

Here are the top 7 tips to avoid a 485 refusal:

  1. Choosing the correct stream

There are two streams to choose when applying for the 485 visa application.

You must choose the correct stream or risk getting the application refused. A simple tick indicating wrong choice means you will have an expensive and irreversible visa refusal at your hand.

Post Study Work Stream – If you have completed a Bachelor’s degree or higher in Australia and applied for your first student visa on or after November 2011. This visa would be granted with a minimum of two years and a maximum of six years.

Graduate Work Stream – If you have completed a trade certificate, diploma or bachelor in the last six months and your occupation is on the skill list (MLTSS) and you have arranged for a skills assessment. Also, if your first student visa was applied/granted on or before November 2011, and you completed a Bachelor’s degree or higher in the last 6 months, then you would be choosing this stream. This visa would be granted for a maximum of 18 months.

  1. English language requirement

You can either show that you hold a valid passport from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland, or prove your English proficiency. To do this, show evidence that in the last 3 years, you achieved one of the following acceptable scores:

IELTS – Overall score of at least 6 with a minimum score of 5 for each of the 4 modules (Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening)

TOEFL iBT – Total score of at least 64 with a minimum score of 4 for listening, 4 for reading, 14 for writing and 14 for speaking

PTE – Overall score of at least 50 with a minimum score of 36 for each of the 4 parts

OET – At least B for each of the 4 parts

Cambridge C1 Advanced Test – Overall at least 169 with a minimum score of at least 154 in each of the 4 test components

It is important to note that if relying on the English language test, you must have undertaken the test prior to lodgement of your 485 application.

While there is no requirement to provide the test result at the time of application, the test date must pre-date the visa application date.

Far too many applications have been refused because applicants didn’t sit for the test before submitting the application. So, don’t risk it and consult a professional if you are not confident!

  1. Australian Federal Police (AFP) clearance

Unlike many other visa applications, 485 visa application requires that you must have applied for an Australian Federal Police (AFP) clearance prior to lodging the 485 visa application. Failing to do so will result in a refusal.

Also note that you must have applied for a “correct” police clearance type. For immigration purposes, tick the code 33 when applying for your AFP clearance.

For more instructions on applying for your AFP clearance, read here.

  1. Meeting Australian Study requirement

This is one of the most confusing requirements for a 485 visa application. To be eligible for a 485 visa, in the 6 months immediately before making an application, you must have completed either:

  • a single eligible qualification that requires at least 2 academic years study, or
  • more than 1 qualification that results in a total of at least 2 academic years study resulting in an eligible qualification

You must have completed your study in Australia, in a total of no less than 16 calendar months, while you held a visa authorising you to study.

Your course, or courses, resulting in the award of an eligible degree, diploma or trade qualification, must be registered on the CRICOS register and instructions must be completed in English.

For more information about Australian study requirements, read here.


  1. Skills Assessment

The Graduate Work Stream application must have been accompanied by evidence that the primary applicant had applied to a relevant assessing authority for an assessment of their skills in their nominated skilled occupation.  The skills assessment body will depend on the occupation as listed in the ANZSCO dictionary.

To satisfy the time of application criteria, it is not necessary to provide a copy of the skills assessment result when lodging the application.  The applicant should attach an evidence of making an application to the relevant assessing authority to have their skills assessed for their nominated occupation.  This may include a test reference number or an acknowledgement of a skills assessment application.

Once a positive skills assessment is received, it should be attached to the application as soon as possible or when a further request by the DHA case officer is made.

Understanding the requirements of a skills assessment application is crucial for a successful 485 visa grant. An experienced Registered Migration Agent can assist you with the skills assessment and the 485 visa application. So, if you think it’s too much to handle and you don’t want to risk a refusal, do get in touch with a professional!

  1. Studying an eligible course

Not all courses will be eligible for a 485 visa. If you are studying at a Diploma level which is not a trade qualification, then chances are that you may not be eligible. Also studying at Bachelor or higher level but applying under Graduate Work Stream requires that your nominated occupation must be on the appropriate skill list (MLTSSL). The nominated occupation will depend on the field of your study. So, if you have studied something which does not relate to a nominated occupation on the MLTSSL, then you may not be eligible for the 485 visa.

Most students don’t understand this requirement, or they fall prey to unregistered agents, who are not qualified enough to guide properly. It is therefore very important to either have complete knowledge of the rules and regulations that apply to your visa type or hire a professional.

  1. Health Cover

You must have adequate health cover for the whole of your stay to be granted this visa. Your cover should cover you for medically necessary treatment, including transport.

You must hold an appropriate health cover at the time of application, otherwise your application may be refused.

If your Overseas Students Health Cover (OSHC) is valid at the time of application of 485 visa, you may be able to use it to apply but must change to Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC) before your OSHC expires or when the case officer requests.


  1. Bonus TIP

Here’s a bonus tip!

If you have a current visa with a ‘No further stay’ condition 8534 or 8503 on your current visa, you will need to apply for this visa using the paper form (Form 1409). Only the paper form has an application to have the ‘No further stay’ condition waived.



Applying for a skilled graduate visa may not seem like a complicated process, however in many circumstances, it may be the only visa available for an applicant to remain in Australia and plan for permanent residency or other work visas. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you understand the requirements and documentation of the visa.

Currently, there is a trend of offering visa services at bottom low prices and many applicants have fallen prey to these marketing tactics by unscrupulous agents. Lot of visa applications are refused due to incompetency of agents and applicants’ lack of knowledge. Read one such case here.

We hope that these tips will be helpful for you, especially if you are planning to lodge the visa application yourself. However, if you believe that it’s in your best interest to seek professional help, then we can certainly assist you with any visa services.

My Migration has a team of experienced migration consultants with more than 20 years of combined experience and thousands of successful applications. Feel free to check our reviews on Facebook and Google before deciding.

Interested to know more?

Click here to book a FREE 15 minute phone call with one of our friendly consultants. You may also fill out the Online Assessment Form for a free assessment to know your eligibility for a visa to Australia.

Author: Jag Khairra
I am a Registered Migration Agent (RMA) based in Melbourne, Australia. I advise and assist clients who are looking to call Australia their home. I have been doing so since 2006. I try to read at least 10 books a year, meditate everyday, enjoy photography, love watching movies and listening to music. Sometimes, I binge watch Netflix (and other streaming services). MARN 0634839

The above article constitutes only generic information on migration issues, and does not constitute specific migration advice to any entity or individual.

Share with: