Temporary visa changes to address workforce shortages

21 January 2022

In efforts to address current workforce shortages due to COVID-19 and aid Australia’s economic recovery, the Australian Government has amended visa conditions for student and working holiday makers.


Key points

As of 19 January 2022:

  • Visa application charges are eligible for a refund
  • Limits on student visa working hours are revoked
  • Limits on how long a working holiday maker can work for the same employer are revoked

Further detail

Any student or working holiday maker visa holder who is currently overseas and travels to Australia between 19 January and 19 March 2022 will be eligible for a refund of their visa application charge (VAC).

The current VAC is A$630 for a student visa and A$495 for a working holiday maker visa.

Information on how to apply for a refund will be available on the Department of Home Affairs website shortly, according to the Australian Government.

The limit on working hours for student visa holders across all sectors has also been temporarily removed. This will also apply to secondary student visa holders and will take effect immediately, to be reviewed in April 2022.

Additionally, the limit on working holiday maker visa holders to only work for six months with one employer has also been lifted.

Effective until the end of 2022, there will be no limit on the time working holiday makers can work for the same employer.

These measures are temporary and designed to provide immediate assistance to Australian businesses currently facing critical workforce shortages.

“It’s changes to the visa requirements and the working requirements of people on visas that is going to make a real difference,” Treasurer of Australia Josh Frydenberg said.

We’re opening up an opportunity for 175,000 more students and working holiday makers to come to Australia.


As of January 31, ​The Government will extend Skilled Regional (Provisional) (subclass 489, 491 and 494) visas by 3 years if the visa holder was affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

"We will extend visas for Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa holders if the primary visa holder was outside Australia at any time between 1 February 2020 and 14 December 2021 (inclusive) as the holder of a valid Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa.

"Affected Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa holders will then have time to make travel plans to start or resume living and working in regional Australia. For more information see the COVID-19 and the border – regional Australia page."

How we can help

The Victorian Chamber can help businesses recruit overseas workers and fulfil their legal obligations.

Sponsoring overseas workers can be a complicated process. The Victorian Chamber provides tailored migration and visa services to members. We can help:

  • Determine an organisation’s eligibility to sponsor overseas skilled workers
  • Ensure businesses and potential employees understand the legal obligations
  • Prepare documents and lodge sponsorships, nominations and visa applications
  • Monitor the entire application process
  • Liaise with, and respond to, immigration authorities
  • Keep up to date with immigration changes
  • Understand legislation, policies and procedures and how to deal with other relevant migration and visa issues.

For more information on sponsoring skilled overseas workers, read our article here.

You can also contact our registered migration agent, Eddie Zhao, on 03 8662 5234 or email ezhao@victorianchamber.com.au

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