Extension of Work Hours for International Students to Ease COVID Worker Shortage

Extension of Work Hours for International Students to Ease COVID Worker Shortage

Due to the Omicron outbreak in Australia, many people are forced to stay inside their homes. It has caused the labor shortage in Australia. So, the Australian Government has announced the extension of work hours for overseas students. The purpose of this policy is to reduce the labor shortages in Australia.


According to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the federal government will end the 40 hours per fortnight limit for Student Visa holders. It means that there’ll be no work hours restrictions for overseas students in Australia. In May 2021, Student Visa holders in the Tourism and Hospitality industry were exempted from the 40-hours work limit.


Major Points of Extension of Work Hours

The federal government has lifted the work limit for overseas students. Therefore, Scott Morrison has advised foreign students to return to Australia. Backpackers are also allowed to enter Australia if they hold Working Holiday Visas. They can return to Australia only if they’re fully vaccinated. If you’re fully vaccinated and want to return to Australia so, you can book a consultation with us.


Food manufacturing and distribution industries in Australia have been experiencing worker shortages. As many workers have had to isolate themselves due to the rising cases of Covid-19. People working in emergency services and food distribution in NSW and Queensland who’re close contacts are allowed to go to work. Further, they can leave isolation if they don’t have any symptoms.


A high-risk contact, such as someone who lives next to a positive COVID-19 case, is required to undergo rapid antigen tests every second day until day 6 of their isolation. From Wednesday next week, Victoria’s emergency services, education, critical utilities, custodial facilities, transport, and freight workers can be exempt from being isolated as close contacts. It’ll expand work exemption which is already in place for healthcare and food and drink distribution workers.


State and territory leaders are being asked by Australia’s top health panel to broaden the number of workers who are allowed to leave self-isolation.


More Workload on International Students 

The President of the Council of International Students Australia (CISA), Oscar Zi Shao Ong, believes many students would appreciate the extension of work hours. However, Mr. Ong pointed out that international students already spend more than 40 hours a week at university. They spend most of the time attending lectures, tutorials and completing their assignments.


According to Oscar Ong, international students will have to balance their studies and work. In his view, increasing the workload on international students to fill the worker shortage would lead them to additional pressure. As students are already trying to meet the university deadlines.



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Statement by Oscar Ong on Extension of Work Hours

The Federal Government has announced to extend the working hours for foreign students. Though, Oscar Ong has expressed a few concerns regarding the extension of work hours.


Mr. Oscar Zi Shao Ong said that;

“The biggest question is that international students came here to study. If you’re asking them to be entirely just working as a skilled worker, then the question is should they get a different visa rather than student visa?”


Additionally, in his view, foreign students may not be aware of the new rules and study requirements in Australia. It especially includes the recent arrivals in Australia. Though, if you want to know about the new study requirements of Australia, you can book a consultation with us.


Oscar Ong said that more work could increase the risk of international students catching COVID-19.


He stated that;

“I think it’s a very dangerous situation for them because they won’t be having the correct advice. Then who’s going to be responsible to take care of them, if international students fall sick?”



The Federal Government of Australia has announced to extend the working hours. It’s for international students and backpackers on Working Holiday Visas. The idea behind the extension of work hours is to fill the labor shortage in Australia. As many people had to isolate themselves due to the Covid-19 and now Omicron as well.


It’s a good news for international Student Visa holders in Australia. However, according to Oscar Zi Shao Ong, it could also put them at great risk of catching Coronavirus. Likewise, it might be difficult for them to balance their studies and work. So, let’s hope that the decision of extending work hours could have productive outcomes in the future.


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I’m Nasir Nawaz. I’m a registered migration consultant in Australia. I am based in Sydney. I’ve studied Master of Laws at the University of New South Wales. I’m providing immigration services for several years.

Consult with me for legal advice on Australian visas to permanently live, study, and work in Australia.