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Temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders

​​​​​Australia is taking steps to manage the global outbreak of COVID-19.  In light of these exceptional circumstances and the need to ensure continuity of the supply of critical services, the Department of Home Affairs and the Australia Border Force will exercise discretion in relation to student visa holders working beyond their usual work limitations in specified industry sectors.

On 7 March 2020, the Government decided to temporarily relax the 40 hour work limit for student visa holders working in supermarkets. This temporary measure ceased on 1 May 2020 for supermarkets.​

From 1 May 2020, the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force will exercise normal discretion in relation to student visa holders employed in supermarkets who exceed the work limitations of their visa. The Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force officers will not seek to enforce these conditions for, nor initiate prosecutions with respect to, student visa holders who worked in supermarkets in accordance with this temporary measure between 7 March 2020 and 30 April 2020.

On 18 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 23 April 2020, all registered National Disability Insurance Scheme providers were given access to this temporary measure. There is no requirement 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.​ See a list of NDIS providers​.

Student visa holders already enrolled in nursing can undertake work to help and support the health effort against COVID-19 as directed by health officials. On 23 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. W​e will not take any enforcement action regarding health care students working in these circumstances.​

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.

These temporary measures will be reviewed by the government regularly. Employers will be advised when these measures no longer apply.

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

​​Student visa holders

Student visa holders do not need to apply for this temporary measure. You should contact your employer.

See what to do if your visa is about to expire.