Australia to scrap Covid visa, introduce limit on working hours for international students

SYDNEY – Authorities in Australia have decided to scrap the Covid work visa that is expected to affect a sizable number of students.

The work visa known as Subclass 408 or temporary activity visa, permits applicants to work in Australia if they are employed or have an offer of employment in a key sector.

“The government is currently considering its ongoing suitability. This includes consideration of an end date for closing eligibility of the visa (Subclass 408) and proposed approach to returning to normal operations,” the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) told a media outlet.  

The Covid work visa offered students the opportunity to work unlimited hours but now work hour caps will return, slashing their income; however, international students working in the aged care sector will be exempted from this limit until December 31.

The move is drawing mixed responses though it is expected to affect thousands of Indian students who had been living in the country for years. The closure of the work visa means that they will have to find a different visa to stay in the country.

The Covid work visa was introduced to provide relief to foreign students in Australia who were unable to leave the country during the pandemic due to border closures. The visa allowed students to live in the country for extra 12 months if their visas expired.

An official statement in this regard said student visa work restrictions were relaxed throughout the pandemic, and completely removed in January 2022 to allow primary and secondary student visa holders to work over their normal limit of 40 hours per fortnight to address workforce shortages.

The authorities said the cap would ensure that student visa holders are able to focus on obtaining a quality Australian education and qualification while remaining able to support themselves financially, gain valuable work experience, and contribute to Australia’s workforce needs. 

Besides the work visa closure, the Australian government would impose a new working hour limit of 48 hours per fortnight for foreign students, beginning July 1 irrespective of when they began studying in the country.

Australia attracts thousands of students each year from different parts of the world due to its famous universities as well as for providing an easy path to residency and citizenship. Among other Asians, Indians prefer going to the country for education and work. 

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