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Temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders

​To address workforce shortages, student visa work hours have been temporarily relaxed. This measure takes effect immediately for all ongoing students as well as new student arrivals, including secondary applicants. Students will be able to work before their course of study commences. They will also be able to work more than 40 hours a fortnight in any sector of the economy.

These temporary measures remain in place until further notice. Students must ensure they are aware of any changes to visa conditions, including work rights.

In addition, student visa holders who are outside Australia and arrive between 19 January 2022 and 19 March 2022 may be eligible for a refund of their VAC. Students can apply for a refund up until 31 December 2022. For more information on how to apply for a VAC refund see Getting a refund.​

Inform​ation for students

You must continue to balance your study and work commitments even though there is flexibility in the number of hours you 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.  

If you are working or have an offer of employment in a critical sector​, and you have finished your course, you may be eligible for a COVID-19 Pandemic (subclass 408) visa. You can only apply for this visa 90 days before your student visa is due to expire.​

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 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.​

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. Make sure your education provider knows that you cannot start your studies due to COVID-19 restrictions. There are options that can ensure you are not in breach of your visa conditions. Your education provider can tell you what options are available to you for your situation.

If you hold a Student visa, make contact with your education provider if you cannot travel due to COVID-19 restrictions. Make sure that you are enrolled in an approved course of study at all times. 

Be aware that we may cancel your visa if you:

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

Your education provider will be able to help you so this does not happen. 

If you are outside Australia and have not held an active or current CoE, check your visa status on (VEVO). Do this before making any travel plans to ensure your visa status has not changed.

See also​ Your study situation has changed​.