Changes from 1 July for student visa holders and others

A reintroduction of work limitations for student visas, changes for Working Holiday Makers and international graduates, plus an update on the Indian Free Trade Agreement.

The Department of Home Affairs has recently announced changes for student visa holders and Working Holiday Makers. In addition, the Government has confirmed the return of the student visa work hours limitation and the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI ECTA) has no impact on businesses recruiting Indian passport holders.

Reintroduction of working hour limits for student visas

Effective 1 July 2023, the Department has announced that student visa holders can only work up to forty-eight hours per fortnight.

Student visa work restrictions are complex, for more information please access our factsheet which provides a summary of the work restrictions which will come into effect on 1 July 2023.

The Department has confirmed that the current temporary relaxation of the work limitation, will remain in place until 30 June 2023 and that this applies to ongoing students as well as new student arrivals who wish to commence a job prior to course commencement. This also includes secondary applicants.

More information on the current concessions are available here.

Continued flexibility for Working Holiday Makers

Until 30 June 2023, Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) working in any sector, anywhere in Australia, may continue to work for the same employer without requesting permission. Previously, work with any one employer was generally limited to six months.

This means that WHMs can remain with the same employer until 31 December 2023, even if they worked for that same employer before 1 July 2023.

This temporary relaxation is not restricted to those already in Australia and applies to all WHM Visa holders and those who hold a Bridging visa with condition 8547 imposed.

More information on the WHM changes can be found on the Department of Home Affairs website.

Two-year extension of post-study work rights

International graduates who hold select degrees in areas where there is a verified shortage of skilled individuals may be eligible for a two-year extension of their post-study work rights.

This extension grants additional work rights on their Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485).

It should be noted that this extension is separate from the existing one to two years of work rights granted to eligible students who study, live, and work in regional areas.

The list of eligible occupations in demand and related qualifications that qualify for the extension is available here.

For further details, please refer to the post-study work rights factsheet.

Indian Free Trade Agreement – No beneficial impact on employers

The Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI ECTA) came into force on 29 December 2022.

The Department of Home Affairs has not amended international trade obligations relating to labour market testing Legislative Instrument as the terms of the AI ECTA do not include a waiver of the Labour Market Testing requirements.

Effectively, this means the only relevant change for the purposes of the subclass 482 Visa program is that visa applicants in the short-term stream are eligible for a grant of the visa for up to 4 years (rather than only two years).

In relation to post-study work rights, these are also maintained with opportunities for Indian students to live, study and work temporarily upon completion of:

  • Diploma or trade qualifications, stays of up to 18 months
  • Bachelor degree (including honours), stays of up to 2 years
  • Masters by research and masters by coursework, stays of up to 3 years
  • Doctoral degrees, stays of up to 4 years.

An additional year will be available for Indian students who graduate with bachelor’s degrees in STEM and ICT with First Class Honours, which will extend the possible stays from two to three years.

However, this is not an increase in the current standard eligibility available to all nationalities.

Australia will also increase the eligibility in the Work and Holiday program to include Indian passport holders. The places available to Indian passport holders will be set at 1,000 per year and the program is expected to commence within the next two years.

Based on the above changes, the commencement of the AI ECTA has no impact on businesses recruiting Indian passport holders.

BDO Migration Services can help

Given the complexity and rapidly changing environment regarding Australian visa and entry requirements, we strongly recommend that both employers and visa applicants seek specialist legal advice.

Please contact Maria Jockel, Global and National Immigration Leader, Legal Principal and Accredited Specialist in Immigration Law; or Rebecca Thomson, Principal Lawyer, BDO Migration Services, with any enquiries.

Disclaimer: This information is provided as a guide only and it has been written in general terms and should be seen as a broad guidance only. This information cannot be relied upon to cover specific situations and you should not act, or refrain from acting, upon the information without obtaining specific professional advice. ©January 2023 BDO Migration Services. All rights reserved.