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Several concessions for Student, Graduate and Working Holiday Maker visas

By January 20, 2022January 25th, 2022No Comments

australian immigration practice

Throughout January 2022, the Australian government announced a number of concessions for Student (Subclass 500), Graduate (Subclass 485) and Working Holiday Maker visa holders to help support Australia’s COVID-19 impacted economy.

Temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders

Firstly, there has been a temporary relaxation of student visa work limits to all sectors of the economy. This 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. ​

Students must continue to comply with their student visa conditions, not withstanding this additional employment opportunities. That is, 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.

Bear in mind that students who have an offer of employment in a critical sector​, and who have finished their course, may be eligible for a COVID-19 Pandemic (subclass 408) visa. This visa can only be applied within 90 of the existing student visa expiry.​

Employers must continue to comply with 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 to not cancel the visas of students who work  more than 40 hours each fortnight to support an organisation
  • not refer student visa holders for investigation of any potential offence under s235 of the Migration Act 1958 for student visas who work additional hours 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 for allowing a student visa holder to work in breach of their visa conditions.​

Working Holiday Makers – Employer Flexibility

In addition, effective immediately and until the end of 2022, there will be no limit on the length of time Working Holiday Makers can work for the same employer (see here).

Visa extensions for COVID-19 affected temporary graduate visa holders

​Following announcements on 18 January 2022, certain eligible Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holders will have their visas extended or enlivened to 30 September 2022. Visa holders eligible for an extension will be notified directly by the Department.

This interim measure allows eligible Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holders who were affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions to enter, or remain in,​ Australia to live and work until they can apply for and be granted a replacement Temporary Graduate visa.

To be eligible for a Temporary Graduate visa extension:

  • visa holders must have held a Temporary Graduate visa on 15 December 2021
  • the current visa expires before 30 September 2022
  • the primary visa holder was in Australia at time of the visa grant
  • the primary visa holder has been outside Australia for any period between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021 (inclusive)
  • the visa has not been cancelled since 15 December 2021
  • the holder has not been granted a further substantive visa since 15 December 2021.

To be eligible for visa enlivening:

  • visa holders must have held a Temporary Graduate visa that visa expired between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021 inclusive
  • the primary visa holder was in Australia at time of grant
  • the primary holder of the visa has been outside Australia for any period between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021 inclusive
  • the visa was not cancelled
  • the visa holder has not been granted a further substantive visa.

The visa extension is free and will occur automatically. You do not need to contact the Department and will include family members that were included in the original Temporary Graduate visa.

The visa enlivening will cost AUD1,680 for the primary visa applicant. There is also a charge for each family member who applies for the visa with them.

Applications for the COVID-19 Temporary Graduate replacement stream visa open on 1 July 2022. The Temporary Graduate replacement stream visa will give current and former visa holders impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions the same length of stay as their original visa.

Refund of visa application charges for Student visa holders

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.

The current VAC for a Student visa is AUD630.

The VAC refund includes secondary visa holders. Information on how to apply for a refund will be available on the Department of Home Affairs website shortly.

Refund of visa application charges for Working Holiday Maker visa holders

Any Working Holiday Maker visa holder who is currently offshore and travels to Australia between 19 January and 19 April 2022 will be eligible for a refund of their visa application charge.

The current VAC for a Working Holiday Maker it is AUD495.

The VAC refund includes secondary visa holders. Information on how to apply for a refund will be available on the Department of Home Affairs website shortly.

Any questions?

We’re extremely pleased to see the relaxation of limitations for temporary visa holders in and outside of Australia. Contact us by email at [email protected] or phone +61 3 9016 0484 if you have any further queries.

This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult an immigration professional for up to date information.
Mihan Hannan

Author Mihan Hannan

Formerly a Senior Associate in one of Australia’s most reputable immigration litigation and review practices, Mihan is solutions focused and well versed in all aspects of Australian immigration law. Mihan also has a subscription addiction, being obsessed with tools to improve the firms immigration work flow.

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