The Australian Government has announced several changes to the student visa arrangements to support international students.
The Government will recommence granting student visas in all locations outside Australia. So, when the borders re-open, students who have visas will be able to enter Australia.
Students who study online outside Australia due to COVID-19, can count that study towards an Australian post-study work visa. Graduates who held a student visa, but were unable to return due to COVID-19, will also be eligible for post-study work visas. Further student visa applications will be free of charge if the students were unable to complete their courses under the original visa due to COVID-19.
Also, in response to labour shortages, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government has relaxed the 40 hour per fortnight work limit previously imposed on student visa holders. Student visa holders are now permitted to work more than 40 hours a fortnight but only those who are working in the following sectors are entitled to this temporary reprieve. They need to be employed:
- by an Approved Provider or Commonwealth-funded aged care service provider before 8 September 2020
- by a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme provider
- enrolled in a health care related course and are supporting the health effort against COVID-19, as directed by health officials
- in the agriculture sector
- in the tourism and hospitality sector
Student visa holders do not need to contact the Department of Home Affairs if they are working more than 40 hours per fortnight in any of the sectors above, but they 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.
Students who are working in, or have an offer of employment from one of the sectors mentioned above, and have finished their course, may be eligible for a COVID-19 Pandemic (subclass 408) visa. Applications for this visa must only be submitted 90 days before the student visa is due to expire.
Check the Department of Home Affairs’ website regularly for updates as these measures are temporary, subject to change and only valid during COVID-19 pandemic.
The above information was true at the time of publication – for further updates please refer to the Department of Home Affairs’ website.