Visa changes to alleviate staffing shortages in tourism and hospitality sectors

The Federal Government will remove existing work hour caps for Student Visa holders employed in the tourism and hospitality sector.

A 40 hour fortnightly limit previously applied during study periods.

The move is aimed at supporting the tourism and hospitality sector which have been struggling with staffing shortages since the pandemic began and international borders were closed.

In addition, temporary visa holders will be able to access the 408 COVID-19 Pandemic Event Visa for a period of 12 months if they work in the tourism and hospitality sector.

Temporary visa holders working in, or intending to work in, tourism and hospitality will be able to apply for the 408 COVID-19 Visa up to 90 days before their existing visa expires and then remain in Australia for up to 12 additional months.

“Government has listened carefully to the States, Territories and industry and is introducing these changes to support critical sectors for Australia’s COVID-19 economic recovery,” said the Minister for Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke.

“Tourism and hospitality employs more than half a million Australians and these changes will allow them to supplement their existing workforce to keep their businesses running in addition to generating employment through a job multiplier effect.”

The move was welcomed by industry groups.

“Employing Australians is always our first preference, but permitting student visa holders to work more hours and allowing temporary visa holders to work in the tourism and hospitality sector under the COVID-19 Pandemic Event Visa will help ensure businesses across Australia have access to the workforce they need,” said Australian Hotels Association CEO Stephen Ferguson.

“With reports that some hotels, bars, pubs and taverns have been reducing hours or even closing due to a lack of available staff, [this] announcement will be welcome relief for many.

“The surge we have seen in domestic tourism is fantastic, however for it to continue we need to have enough people to pour beers, serve meals and service hotel rooms – providing flexibility to allow visa holders to do this work is essential.”

Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO Michael Johnson said the amendments reflect “what our associations had requested on behalf of our members”.

“The changes announced today will hopefully take some of the current pressure off the hotels and their hard-working employees and secure the necessary workforce support they require to trade at full capacity,” Johnson said.