To all our kababayans who are on a student visa studying a master’s by research or a doctorate, you are well aware that there are restrictions on your work hours. You are normally allowed to work only up to 40 hours a fortnight while your course is in session and unlimited hours during school breaks. But with this new development announced by the Department of Home Affairs and Border Force, there will be a temporary relaxation of working hours. This welcome measure is in place to support the supply of certain essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Student visa holders can work for more than 40 hours a fortnight if:
- Employed by aged care approved provider or Commonwealth-funded aged care service provider with a RACS ID or a NAPS ID before 8 September 2020.
- Employed by a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme provider.
- Enrolled in a health care-related course and actively supports the health effort against COVID-19 as directed by health officials.
- Employed in the agriculture sector
- Employed in the tourism and hospitality sector
Key information for students
Work hour limitations are in place to ensure that there will be a balance of work and study. It also gives students time to enjoy being a student and getting involved in student life. Therefore, students who will work more than 40 hours per fortnight under the eligible sectors are still expected to meet all the following conditions:
- Maintain their course enrolment
- Ensure satisfactory course attendance
- Ensure satisfactory course progress
Failure to meet the above may be considered as a breach of visa conditions. The same is true for student visa holders who cancel their enrolment or stop attending classes.
Key Information for soon-to-expire visa holders
Student visa holders who are working or have an offer of employment in one of the eligible sectors, and are nearing the completion of their course, may be eligible for a COVID-19 Pandemic (subclass 408) visa. They can only apply for this visa 90 days before their student visa is due to expire.
Key information for employers
Australia is one of the best places to work while studying. Student visa holders have the same work rights and protection as any Australians in the workplace. Hence, employers must continue to follow Australian workplace law. 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.
If student visa holders wish to work more than 40 hours per fortnight in one of the eligible sectors, there is no need to contact the Department for permission. However, it is important to note that these are only temporary measures during the COVID-19 pandemic and will be reviewed by the Government. Student visa holders must continue to check the Department of Home Affairs website for updates on these arrangements.
(Felix Carao is a Registered Migration Consultant (MARN 1069354), a Qualified Education Counselor (QEAC G028), and an Accredited Recruitment Professional (MRCSA 51889). For enquiries, call 0412 321 187 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.allskills.com.au.)
Do you need assistance from an Australian Registered Migration Agent?