The Australian Government has just announced an increase to the working hour cap for international students to 48 hours per fortnight.
Previously, international students were able to work 40 hours per fortnight and unlimited hours during holiday breaks. Throughout the pandemic, these restrictions were relaxed, and in January 2022, removed entirely, to help meet workforce shortages.
The cap on working hours will be reintroduced on 1 July 2023 at the increased rate of 48 hours per fortnight. The cap will apply to all international students, no matter when they began studying in Australia.
The government also revealed that it would be extending post-study work rights for eligible international students in Australia from the same date.
@insiderguides It’s been a big breaking news week for international students! Here we break down what you need to know about the new working hour cap and post-study work rights extension #internationalstudents #workinghours #temporarygraduatevisa #485visa #485visaextension ♬ A tropical house that feels Summer vibes – Roa
Why is the cap on working hours being reinstated?
The relaxation of the working hour cap was always considered a temporary measure to help international students support themselves financially and to help overcome labour shortages.
As stated on the Department of Home Affairs website:
“[The reintroduction of work restrictions] ensures 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. ”
If you are an international student who is working in Australia, you must ensure you still:
- Maintain your course enrolment
- Ensure satisfactory course attendance, and
- Ensure satisfactory course progress
If you are a student visa holder and cancel your enrolment and stop attending classes, or fail to meet satisfactory course progress, you may be in breach of your visa conditions.
Australia’s rising cost of living and student opinions
As reported by ABC News, many international students are struggling with rising rents and inflation. For Dahlia, an international student from Bali, the reintroduction of restrictions will have a significant impact on her life.
“At the moment I am working around 40 hours per week, and that is barely enough to cover all my living expenses,” she says.
However, student opinions differ across the country. While some embraced the flexibility offered by unlimited working hours, others felt they ran the risk of overworking themselves and falling behind in their studies. Insider Guides spoke to four different international students about their thoughts on the working hour cap, which revealed a range of mixed feelings.
Accessing support as an international student
If you have any questions regarding working hours and your rights as an international student, contact the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO). Your education provider’s careers centre/officer may also be able to provide employment advice and support.
If you are being exploited by an employer, for example, if your employer threatens you with visa cancellation for working too many hours in a fortnight after the cap is reintroduced, reach out to the FWO.
The Assurance Protocol applies to temporary visas with work restrictions, including the Student (subclass 500) visa. This allows international students to seek help from the FWO without fear of visa cancellation, even if they have breached their visa conditions.