The Australian Department of Home Affairs has temporarily relaxed student visa work hours, in order to address workforce shortages, and this measure is applicable for all ongoing students as well as new student arrivals, including secondary applicants.
New students can work before their course of study commences and will be allowed to work more than 40 hours a fortnight in any sector of the economy.
While these are temporary measures, they will remain in place until further notice, and students must keep themselves informed about any changes to visa conditions, including work rights.
Additionally, student visa holders who have arrived in Australia between 19 January 2022 and 19 March 2022 could apply for a refund of their VAC up until 31 December 2022.
Important Information for Students
Even though you are permitted to work over 40 hours a fortnight, you must remember that your primary obligation is toward your studies. Make sure that you continue to balance your study and work commitments even though there is flexibility in the number of hours you can work. It is important to maintain a good work life balance and ensure that you do not get burn-out.
You must still maintain your course enrolment, ensure satisfactory course attendance, and ensure satisfactory course progress.
As a student visa holder, if you cancel your enrolment or stop attending classes, or fail to meet satisfactory course progress, you could be in breach of your visa conditions.
If you are either already working or have an offer of employment in a critical sector, on completion of your course you may be eligible for a COVID-19 Pandemic (subclass 408) visa. Note that you can only apply for this visa 90 days before your student visa is due to expire.
Important Information for Employers
All employers must continue to follow Australian workplace law; and overseas workers, including international students, have the same rights under Australian workplace law as all other employees.
During the time that these measures are in place, the Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force will:
- exercise their discretion under s116(1)(b) of the Migration Act 1958. This is to not cancel the visas of students who work over 40 hours each fortnight to support your organisation
- not refer student visa holders for investigation of any potential offence under s235 of the Migration Act 1958. This might relate to the hours worked by a student visa holder in breach of their visa conditions.
- not refer you or relevant third-party labour-hire companies, as an employer, for investigation of any potential offence under s245AC of the Migration Act 1958. This might relate to allowing a student visa holder to work in breach of their visa conditions.
Flexibility regarding start dates due to COVID-19
The Department of Home Affairs understands that some students may not be able to start their course of study on time due to COVID-19 restrictions. If this is you, make sure your education provider knows that you cannot start your studies due to COVID-19 restrictions. Find out from your education provider the options available to you that can ensure you are not in breach of your visa conditions, depending on your specific situation.
If you hold a Student visa, make contact with your education provider if you cannot travel due to COVID-19 restrictions. Ensure that you are enrolled in an approved course of study at all times. Be aware that your visa could be cancelled if you fail to start studies on time, or do not hold a current or active Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE). Stay in touch with your education provider, who will be able to help you so this does not happen.
In case you are outside Australia and have not held an active or current CoE, check your visa status on this link: VEVO. You should do this before making any travel plans to ensure your visa status has not changed.