Full time working rights for student visa holders in tourism and hospitality: what you should know

A few days ago, the federal government announced changes in the budget to help international students working or willing to work in the hospitality and tourism industry. Student visa holders working in these sectors are now allowed to work more than 40 hours a fortnight. Some of them are also allowed to apply for the Subclass 408 COVID-19 Pandemic event visa. But is it great news? What are the pros and cons of such a measure? We’ve decrypted it for you.  

I’m feeling relieved since the announcement has been made, told us Marie, a student visa holder based in Melbourne. Just like thousands of other student visa holders, she has been struggling during the pandemic and forced to ask for money from her parents back in France. “I was feeling very frustrated not being able to pay for my bills, while the original idea in coming to Australia was to become more independent. I have been contemplating the idea of coming back home, like many other students. But I’ll now finally be able to pursue my studies without worrying about money. And hopefully, to obtain my Permanent Residency in a few years”.  

If Marie was benefiting from the financial support of her parents during the pandemic, many students had to face the situation on their own. They joined some food associations to get free food and inevitably had to take cash-in-hands jobs to pay their rent or courses. This feedback as well as the hospitality and tourism industries comments pushed the Australian Government into action. “The Government has listened carefully to the states, territories, and industries and is introducing these changes to support critical sectors for Australia’s COVID-19 economic recovery,” said Immigration Minister Alex Hawke. 

What does this measure imply for student visa holders?

This announcement is following a similar temporary measure released a few months ago and related to sectors such as agriculture, food processing, health care, childcare, and disability care. Hospitality and tourism are classified as critical industries, just like the sectors mentioned above. Therefore, student visa holders working in these industries can now work full time. 

Moreover, if you decide to work in one of these industries, you won’t need any permit. However, you must maintain your course enrolment, ensure satisfactory course attendance and progress in your studies. All in all, this is a great opportunity to gain experience in a field that interests you while learning in class. 

Why the 408 COVID-19 Pandemic event visa might not be the best option for student visa holders intending to stay long-term in Australia

Following this measure, the Government has made another announcement: some temporary visa holders working in or intending to work in tourism and hospitality can apply for the subclass 408 COVID-19 Event Pandemic Visa up to 90 days before their existing visa expires. They will then remain in Australia for up to 12 months. 

If this might be a good option for student visa holders at the end of their Australian adventure, people intending to stay long-term might have to reconsider this alternative. Firstly, as warned by some immigration experts, they may receive a no further stay condition, but the visa could also be a problem for their GTE (Genuine Temporary Entrant) submissions in future applications. They could also become restricted to work for one employer only.

On the other hand, student visa holders continuing their studies would have better chances to get other visas granted, to pursue the career of their choice in Australia, and to get a Permanent Residency. 

This is therefore a decision to take seriously, depending on your needs and goals in Australia.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Contact us here or here to discuss your situation, student visa, courses, work or any other subject you might need support for. Whatever your decision on any of the visas, we are here to give you all the information that will help you make the best choices for yourself.

Study Destination is an education agency which offers free assistance for you to Live, Study & Work in Australia. Every year we help hundreds of people, just like you, who chose to pack their bags and start living the Australian dream, down under. Contact us today and ask one of our team members anything regarding your journey in Australia.