The Morrison government says temporary visa holders with work rights – including international students – will be allowed to draw on their superannuation funds to help them buffer the economic impacts from the coronavirus pandemic.
The changes apply to the 2.17 temporary visa holders in the country.
Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said the new measures recognise the importance of temporary visa holders to Australia’s economy and society.
“Temporary visa holders are extremely valuable to the Australian economy and way of life, but the reality is that many Australians will find themselves out of work due to the dual health and economic crisis we’re currently facing and these Australians and permanent residents must be the Government’s number one focus.”
Those who are still not able to economically support themselves under the measures are being urged to return to their home country.
“For those individuals, it’s time to go home, and they should make arrangements as soon as possible,” Minister Tudge said.
Changes to visa categories have also been announced to facilitate temporary visa holders remaining in the “key industries” of health, aged care, disability care, agriculture and food processing.
The 40-hour per fortnight restriction on work hours for international students will be relaxed to allow them to work more hours, if they are in the aged care or nursing sector.
The restriction will be temporarily relaxed for international students working in the major supermarkets until 1 May when “more Australians are recruited into [the] roles”.
3 April: PM says international students can go home if they can’t support themselves during COVID-19 outbreak
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Temporary skilled visa holders who haven’t been laid off will be allowed to apply for a visa extension, and have their hours reduced without it being considered a breach of their visa condition.
They will also be allowed to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation this financial year.
Working holiday makers in critical industries such as aged care, agriculture and childcare will be exempt from a six-month limitation with one employer.
They will also be eligible for a further visa to allow them to keep working those sectors beyond the next six months, if their current visa expires.
Minister Tudge flagged further announcements are forthcoming for temporary visa holders in the agriculture sector, with changes expected to the Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme.
More details to come.