To support the supply of certain services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force will take a flexible approach to student visa holders, including those working beyond their usual work limitations, but only in the sectors below. The previous 40 hour fortnightly limit applied during study periods will not be enforced for student visa holders who are working in the tourism and hospitality industry.
The Department is taking a flexible approach to students working beyond the usual work limitations in the following industries:
- employed in the health sector, enrolled in a health related course (such as nursing or medicine) and are directed by a health official to assist in the effort against COVID‑19.
- employed in aged care by an Approved Provider or Commonwealth-funded aged care service provider before 8 September 2020.
- employed by a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme provider before 23 April 2020.
- employed in the agriculture sector.
- employed in the tourism and hospitality sector.
The above are temporary measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, and will be reviewed by the Government.
Students must continue to balance their study and work commitments even though there is more flexibility in work hours in certain sectors.
Students who work more than 40 hours per fortnight in the above sectors, must:
- maintain their course enrolment
- ensure satisfactory course attendance, and;
- ensure satisfactory course progress.
Student visa holders who cancel their enrolment and stop attending classes, or fail to meet satisfactory course progress, may be in breach of their visa conditions.
If you are working or have an offer of employment in one of the sectors above, and you have finished your course, you may be eligible for a COVID-19 Pandemic (subclass 408) visa. You can only apply for this visa 90 days before your student visa is due to expire.
Employers must continue to follow Australian workplace law. Overseas workers, including international students, have the same rights under Australian workplace law as all other employees.
While 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 more than 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.
More information can be found here at the Department of Home Affairs website.
The Minister Hawke’s media release is available here.