Foire aux questions

International Students

What is the Government doing to support student visa holders?


The Government is taking a flexible approach in relation to student visa conditions where COVID-19 and associated travel restrictions have prevented conditions being met, such as attendance at class or use of online learning. The Government has temporarily relaxed the enforcement of the 40 hour work limitation for the following critical sectors: 1. International students who are existing workers in major supermarkets to help get stock on shelves due to high demand (implemented 7 March). 2. International students who are existing workers in the aged care sector are able to work more than 40 hours a fortnight (implemented on 18 March 2020). Student visa holders who are enrolled in nursing can undertake work to help and support the health effort against COVID-19 as directed by health officials.




How will students be assured they will not jeopardise their visa?


Written advice will be provided to approved employers setting out the temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders. Supermarkets must register with the Department of Home Affairs to be given access to the temporary relaxation of working hours for existing workers. A list of registered businesses is published on the Department’s website. Aged Care service providers should refer to the correspondence provided to them by the Department of Health for further details.




What type of work can students undertake under these arrangements?


The temporary arrangements only apply to student visa holders working in supermarkets or aged care providers, as well as student nurses who are supporting health efforts against COVID-19 as directed by health officials. The arrangements only apply to existing workers in their existing roles. As the COVID-19 situation develops, it will be determined whether similar measures are required in other critical sectors to ensure the supply of essential goods and services to Australians.




Are these arrangements limited to students?


Student visa holders are already permitted to work in Australia with a usual limitation of 40 hours per fortnight. In light of the current circumstances, these arrangements respond to needs raised by sectors having regard to the critical role that student visa holders play in their workforce to deliver essential goods and services to the Australian community.




I am unable to support myself in Australia, what can I do?


If you are unable to support yourself, you should make arrangements to return to your usual country of residence, noting that it is a condition of all student visas that holders have access to funds to support themselves for the duration of their stay in Australia. If you have held a student visa for 12 months or longer and cannot meet your immediate living expenses, you can access up to $10,000 of your Australian superannuation tax-free in the 2019-20 financial year. The Government will continue to engage with the international education sector which is providing some financial support for international students facing hardship.





New Zealand 444 Special Category Visa (SCV)

Am I able to access any support in Australia?


If you are a protected SCV New Zealand citizen and meet other eligibility requirements, you will be eligible for all welfare payments, including the Job Seeker and Job Keeper payments. If you are not a protected SCV New Zealand citizen and you hold a TY444 visa, you will still be eligible for the Job Keeper payments through your employer.




What is a protected New Zealand citizen?


A person is a protected SCV New Zealand citizen holder if they fall within one of the following groups:

  • in Australia on 26 February 2001
  • in Australia for 12 months in the 2 years immediately before this date
  • assessed as a protected SCV by Services Australia holder before 26 February 2004.
More information and advice on protected SCV holders can be found at the Services Australia website.




What should I do if I am unable to support myself in Australia and am not eligible for one of the above payments?


Under recently announced measures, New Zealand citizens and permanent residents can access up to $10,000 of their Australian superannuation tax-free in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. If you are unable to support yourself, are not eligible for any of the above payments, and unable to find any employment, you should consider returning to New Zealand.





Employer sponsored temporary work visas

I am a Temporary Skill Shortage visa holder - what should I do if I have be stood down or my hours are reduced?


Temporary Skill Shortage visa holders who have been stood down, but not laid off, will maintain their visa validity and businesses will have the opportunity to extend their visa as per normal arrangements. Businesses will also be able to reduce the hours of the visa holder without the person being in breach of their visa conditions or the business being in breach of their employer obligations.




I have lost my job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what are my options?


Those who are laid off (that is, they are unemployed) should find another employer within 60 days or make arrangements to depart Australia, where this is possible.




I can’t find another employer what should I do?


Those visa holders who have been laid off due to coronavirus and who cannot find another employer to sponsor them, should make arrangements to depart Australia.




What can I do if I cannot return to my home country?


If you cannot return to your home country, you need to maintain a valid visa and engage with the health system when necessary. Where you have been stood down by your employer or had your hours reduced but remain employed, you can access up to $10,000 of your Australian superannuation tax-free in the 2019-20 financial year. For information on extending a stay in Australia if you are unable to depart, see Staying in Australia.





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