Managing the change to work restrictions for student visa holders

Work restrictions for student visa holders will be reintroduced on 1st July 2023. These changes mean that students may work a maximum of 48 hours per fortnight.

Student visa work restrictions were relaxed during the Covid pandemic to support employers who were struggling to find staff. The limits on student working hours were removed in January 2022 to address workforce shortages by allowing primary and secondary student visa holders to obtain full-time employment.

These measures were embraced by employers – especially those in hospitality and aged care – and went a long way to ensuring continued operation for many businesses.

With a return to normal employment conditions, legislators have determined that it is now appropriate to remove the relaxations and cap student working hours.

Since aged care providers were hit especially hard during the pandemic, restrictions will be phased in more gradually for this industry. On Tuesday 21 February, the Australian Government announced that holders of a student visa who are already working in the aged care sector on 9 May 2023 may continue to work unrestricted hours in the aged care sector until 31 December 2023.

The intention of student working visa restrictions is to ensure that student visa holders can focus on obtaining a quality Australian education and qualification while having a means to support themselves financially, gain valuable work experience, and contribute to Australia’s workforce needs.

What does this mean for employers?

Employers must continue to meet their obligations under 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.

So, how will you manage these changes using CVCheck?

CVCheck recommends that all employers confirm the work rights and any associated restrictions for all employees – not just students. Our VEVO Visa & Work Entitlement check will confirm the working rights and list any employment conditions that apply to your employee or candidate.

It’s also important to note that a point-in-time visa and work entitlement check reflects the employee’s status at the time the check is executed.

Changes in visa regulations or in the status of the employee’s visa itself can affect the legality of an employment contract or the working conditions under that contract. To guard against such changes, CVCheck advises that employers conduct periodic checks to ensure their employees remain legally employed and to avoid the penalties that may be imposed for breaching visa conditions.

If your organisation employs people on Student Visas and you are ordering CVCheck’s VEVO Visa & Work Entitlement Check be sure to review the “Work Restrictions” listed on the check result as this will reflect the changed restrictions from 1st July.

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