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UK citizen Tim tells Crikey he spent $3200 on a visa to live out his dream of staying in Australia, on top of $42,000 in tuition fees, making him reluctant to flee in the face of the pandemic. He explains the costly reason he’s decided to stay.

I’m a recent international graduate, having studied a Master’s in accounting in Sydney for the last two years.

It’s been an expensive couple of years: the tuition fees are huge and applying for a graduate visa is no modest amount either (particularly if you include agency fees). I’ve spent $3200 on my visa, and $42,000 on tuition.

That being said, I love Australia and am willing to do all I can to stay here.

COVID-19 has left us in a state of limbo — the goal for many of us after graduation is to earn enough points to attain permanent residency, which for now will have to be shelved. The new priority is making sure we’re financially stable.

My office has seen its hours cut dramatically with projects put on hold. I am a casual office worker, and while my team have done their best to look out for me, nobody can offer any guarantees.

I had optimistically hoped there might be maintenance support from the UK embassy or the Australian government, but the message has been very much to clear off and come home. I appreciate as non-residents we aren’t the Australian government’s first priority, but I had hoped we would have been treated with a bit more empathy, given so many international students have worked so hard and paid so much for the privilege of being here.

The clock continues to tick on my visa and it’s becoming increasingly likely my two-year plan will have to go from shelved to scrapped.

*Tim asked for his surname to be withheld

NOTE: This article has been updated to correct an error in the cost of the visa.