All visas granted to international students in Australia must bear condition 8105 -work limitation- for the primary applicants and a similar condition for any secondary applicant. Having this condition in the visa means that the student, and dependants, cannot engage in any work before the study commences their course and the student is not permitted to work for more than 40 hours per fortnight when the course is in session (More information on visa conditions)
On the 5th of January this year, the government announced that condition 8105 would be temporarily removed, to be reviewed in April. As of the 23rd of May 2022, the condition of hours is still in place. If you are a student or an employer, you should regularly check the Department’s website to ensure these working rights haven’t changed. If you are an Education Counsellor, ensure you give the students the right information along with a note that this condition of working hours may change at any time. Students must be prepared to work part-time and have their studies as the main purpose of being in Australia if they are student visa holders.
It is important to be aware that there are other mandatory conditions to the student visa, requiring students to focus on their studies: to be enrolled in a full-time course, to always have a current valid COE, to pay any additional fees, satisfactorily comply with the course requirements, progress and attendance. These conditions are known as 8202 (meet course requirements) and 8516 (must maintain eligibility).
Like other migration-related decisions, it seems the review of this decision was waiting for the federal elections to take place. Elections are finished, so we may expect its review at any time, even knowing this is not an urgent matter on the government’s agenda. Education providers are receiving a high volume in enrolments again. Applications for visas are on the rise. Workforce shortages are being filled with over-educated people at a cheap rate. After challenging times during Covid, students have had the necessity to work even more to support themselves, and also to support their families overseas. The country and the industry is needing international students to work for longer hours whilst complying with the course requirements, keeping their eligibility, and still being genuine students, temporarily needed in the country.
However, all these rules might not apply to everyone: the government invited students to come to Australia, to offer them full working rights, the best of the best in education, and even return their visa fees. Plenty of those students that took the decision to invest in Australia earlier this year, to give all their savings to the country (sometimes even since 2020), are still waiting for someone in the department to take a look at their visas. The return visa fee is no longer available, their plans have had to be changed time and time again during the semester, to probably face that, by the time their applications are reviewed and granted, the extended working hours might not be in place.
Let’s just hope any change in this rule is made with enough time, thinking also about the international students, the quality of their education, and make those rules and expectations clear for everyone. This article was written by Ana Uribe - ISEAA's Secretary.