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COVID-19 and Student Visa

COVID-19 and Student Visa

The Federal Government is considering providing access to welfare for temporary visa holders who face financial hardship due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

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COVID-19 (Novel coronavirus) has affected both Australian and Temporary Visa holders . People in Australia on temporary visas who have lost jobs amid the coronavirus-driven economic shutdown are finding themselves stuck without any government support.

STATUS: At this stage, if your temporary visa is expiring, you must apply for a new visa before your existing Student visa expires. There is no need to provide evidence of impacts of COVID-19 with your Student visa application. Under Australian migration law, it is not possible to extend a student visa.

WORK RIGHTS: You cannot work more than 40 hours per fortnight when your course of study is ‘in session’, regardless of whether you are attending classes physically or online. A course is considered ‘in session’ for the duration of the advertised semesters (including periods when exams are being held) even if the student is studying online. However, you can work over 40 hours per fortnight if your course has been deferred.

“The Federal Government is considering providing access to welfare for temporary visa holders who face financial hardship due to the outbreak of COVID-19.”

The Federal Government is considering special welfare payments for temporary migrants stranded in Australia without work during the coronavirus pandemic.

People in Australia on student visas who have lost jobs amid the coronavirus-driven economic shutdown are finding themselves stuck without any government support.

For the moment, the Government has activated some Temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders, but it is barely enough for the temporary visa holder to survive this period:

Supermarkets

The government has announced a temporary relaxation of the 40 hours a fortnight work limit for student visa holders who work in Australia’s major supermarkets.

All Coles, Woolworths and Aldi retailers have been given a​ccess to the temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders. The primary activity of the business must be the supply of groceries. All work related to a supermarket is acceptable for example deli/seafood, checkouts and trolley collectors.

Aged Care

International students who work in aged care can also work more than 40 hours a fortnight, to make sure there are enough staff to look after the elderly who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

All aged care Approved Providers or Commonwealth funded aged care service providers that have been issued with a RACS ID or a NAPS ID have been given access to the temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders. These aged care providers should refer to the correspondence provided to them by the Department of Health for further details.​

These measures only apply to existing workers in their existing roles.

They are temporary measures and will be reviewed by the government regularly. Employers will be advised in writing when these considerations no longer apply.

Nursing

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. We will not take any enforcement action regarding student nurses working in these circumstances.​

Measures are being considered to protect and preserve the entitlements of temporary visa holders and visa applicants and working through the issues with the MIA attempting to find solutions.

Migration Institute of Australia has been in negotiations with the Department of Home Affairs to combat the Coronavirus pandemic which has affected temporary visa holders. International students and Subclass 482 visa holders are among the those who may have lost their jobs. Some of the proposed solution by MIA are:

  • immediately waive visa condition 8503 for all visa holders currently in Australia so they can apply for other visas
  • create a COVID-19 specific fee-free visa solution which allows work rights and access to Medicare for the duration of the emergency
  • consider extending temporary visas automatically until 30 October 2020 in the first instance
  • solutions for international students who can’t apply for Subclass 485 visas caught offshore by the pandemic and travel restrictions.

The Government doesn’t want to see people become unlawful non-citizens. At this stage, temporary visa holders are encouraged to retain lawful status.


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