04 May 2020

To help manage the global outbreak of COVID-19, Australia has decided to make some changes to the student visa. To help ensure continued supply of needed services, the Department of Home Affairs and the Australia Border Force will exercise discretion in relation to student visa holders working longer than their usual work limitations in certain industry sectors.

On the 7th of March 2020, the Australian Government decided to temporarily relax the 40 hour work limit for student visa holders working in supermarkets. This temporary measure has since ceased on the 1st of May 2020 for super markets.

On the 18th of March 2020, all aged care Approved Providers or Commonwealth-funded aged care service providers with a RACS ID or a NAPS ID were provided access to the temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders. These providers should see the letter provided to them by the Department of Health for further details.

On the 23rd of April 2020, all registered National Disability Insurance Scheme providers were also given access to the same temporary measure. There is no need for NDIS providers to register with the Department of Home Affairs. These providers should see the letter provided to them by the NDIS Commission for further details.​

Student visa holders that are already enrolled in nursing can now undertake work to help and support the health effort against COVID-19 as directed by health officials. On the 23rd of April 2020, this was expanded to include all student visa holders enrolled in health care related courses supporting the health effort against COVID-19 as directed by health officials. The government will not take any enforcement action regarding health care students that are working in the said circumstances.​

Employers must continue to follow Australian workplace law. Workers from overseas, including international students, have the same rights under Australian workplace law as any other employee.

These measures will be reviewed regularly and employers will be advised when these measures no longer apply.

While these changes are in place, the Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force will:

1. exercise their discretion under s116(1)(b) of the Migration Act 1958 to not cancel the visas of students who work in excess of 40 hours each fortnight to support your organisation.

2. not refer student visa holders for investigation of any potential offence under s235 of the Migration Act 1958 that might relate to the hours worked by a student visa holder in breach of their visa conditions.

3. 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 that might relate to allowing a student visa holder to work in breach of their visa co​ndi​tions.​​

Any current Student visa holders do not need to apply for this temporary change, and must contact their employer.


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