Tourism and Hospitality Industry Added to the Critical Work Sectors

On 08 May 2021, the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, The Hon Hawke MP announced that the tourism and hospitality industry was added to the list of critical sectors eligible for the Subclass 408 “COVID-19” Pandemic Event visa.


This means that temporary visa holders employed by businesses in tourism and hospitality are now able to access the 408 COVID-19 visa that was only previously available to the foreign nationals working in the agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care and child care sectors.


Temporary visa holders who are currently working in the tourism and hospitality industry will be able to apply for the 408 COVID-19 Visa up to 90 days before their existing visa expires. Once approved, their 408 COVID-19 Visa will enable them to remain and work in Australia for up to 12 additional months.


Temporary visa holders who intend to work in the tourism and hospitality industry are also eligible to apply for the 408 COVID-19 Visa.


Extended Work Rights Temporarily Provided To Student Visa Holders

Most Subclass 500 Student Visa holders (and their dependent family members) are limited to working 20 hours per week, restricted by Conditions 8104 and/or 8105 imposed on their student visas. International students enrolled in a Masters by Research or a Doctorate Degree may be exempt from this work limitation. However, the vast majority of student visa holders are restricted to working only 20 hours per week.

Following Minister Hawke’s announcement issued on 08 May 2021, the 20 hour per week work limitation imposed on 500 Student Visas will not be enforced on foreign nationals working in the tourism and hospitality industry.


Overall, the Department of Home Affairs is taking a flexible approach to student visa holders working beyond the usual 20-hour per week work limitations for those:

  • employed in the health sector, enrolled in a health related course (such as nursing or medicine) and are directed by a health official to assist in the effort against COVID‑19;
  • employed in aged care by an Approved Provider or Commonwealth-funded aged care service provider before 8 September 2020;
  • employed by a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme provider before 23 April 2020
  • employed in the agriculture sector; and
  • employed in the tourism and hospitality sector.


Please note that the relaxation of the 20-hour per week work limitation for student visa holders working in the above industries is temporary only.

At the appropriate time, the government will advise the resumption of work limitations imposed on student visas.

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