Employ a student visa holder? Hours have been relaxed to combat workforce shortages

Employ a student visa holder? Hours have been relaxed to combat workforce shortages

by Freya Lucas

February 11, 2022

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers are advised that ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​due to workforce shortages across a number of sectors and industries the Federal Government has determined that there is a temporary relaxation of student visa work limits to all sectors of the economy. 


This change, outlined by the Department of Home Affairs, takes effect immediately for all ongoing students as well as new student arrivals who wish to commence a job prior to course commencement. This means that international students can work before their course commences and work more than 40 hours a fortnight in any sector of the economy. This also includes secondary applicants.


This is a temporary arrangement and will be reviewed by the Government in April 2022. 


In addition, if a student visa holder travels to Australia between 19 January to 19 March 2022, they will be eligible for a refund of their visa application charge. Students will be able to apply for a refund up until 31 December 2022. ​​Details of how to apply for a refund will be available shortly.


For more information see Temporary changes to visa work conditions for Students and Working H​oliday Makers​.​


Information for students


Students must continue to balance study and work commitments even though there is flexibility in the number of hours they can work.


Students must still:


  • 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.  


Information for employers


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 employers 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.​


Flexible arrangements regarding start dates due to COVID-19


The Department understands that some students may not be able to start their course of study on time due to COVID-19 restrictions. Students should Make sure their education provider knows that they cannot start their studies due to COVID-19 restrictions. There are options that can ensure students are not in breach of their visa conditions. Education providers can outline what options are available to each student for their situation.


Student visa holders should make contact with their education provider if they cannot travel due to COVID-19 restrictions. Students must ensure that they are enrolled in an approved course of study at all times. 


The Department of Home Affairs advised that a student’s visa may be canceled if the student:


  • fail to start studies on time, or
  • does not hold a current or active Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE).


Education providers will be able to help students so this does not happen. 


Students who are outside Australia and have not held an active or current CoE should check their visa status on (VEVO) before making any travel plans to ensure their visa status has not changed.​


For more information please see here