The Australian Government has recently announced new developments in Australian Immigration Law that will impact the future work rights of student and temporary graduate visa holders.

The Reinstatement of the Work Hour Cap from 1 July 2023

In January 2022, the Government temporarily relaxed the allowable work hours cap for student visa holders to help alleviate the pressures of workforce shortages.  This flexibility allowed those on a Student visa (subclass 500) to work more than 40 hours a fortnight in any sector of the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government now seeks to re-introduce work restrictions and raise the 40 hours per fortnight work hour cap to 48 hours per fortnight.

Effective from 1 July 2023, these restrictions aim to assist student visa holders in maintaining study as the primary purpose of their visa whilst also allowing them to support themselves financially and gain valuable work experience.  This revised work hours cap will apply to all student visa holders, regardless of when they commenced their course.

Information for Student Visa Holders

In light of these changes, student visa holders must continue to balance their studies and work commitments.  A failure to meet course enrolment, satisfactory course attendance and satisfactory course progress requirements may result in a breach of your visa conditions.

Two-Year Extension to Temporary Graduate Visa (Subclass 485) from 1 July 2023

During the Job and Skills Summit in September 2022, the Government announced a measure to provide a two-year extension of post-study work rights for international graduates with specific degrees in areas of skill shortage.

This measure will come into effect on 1 July 2023, whereby post-study work rights for international graduates will be increased from:

  • two years -> four years (for select Bachelor degrees)
  • three years -> five years (for select Master degrees)
  • four years -> six years (for all doctoral degrees).

In order to qualify for this extension, the applicant must be an eligible international higher education graduate with a Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) on 1 July 2023, or you must apply for a Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) after 1 July 2023.  Moreover, the extension can be applied on top of any existing additional years of works rights for eligible students who study, live and work in regional areas.

The Government has also released a list of eligible occupations and qualifications conveying areas of skill shortage which primarily target engineering, health, teaching and agricultural fields.  The occupations and qualifications list will be monitored and reviewed annually to ensure it responds to changes in the labour market as well as address any risks that arise.

Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) holders whose visas expire/d between September 2022 and 1 July 2023 can apply for a 2-year extension to remain lawfully in Australia using the subclass 408 (Covid-19 Pandemic Event) visa.

For more information and to stay up-to-date with recent announcements, visit the Department of Home Affairs website.

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