In a measure designed to address the current workforce shortages in Australia, the federal government has announced a range of visa measures to encourage the fully vaccinated holders of Student or Working Holiday Maker visas to return to Australia as soon possible.

The holders of Working Holiday Visas who are currently not in the country will be eligible for a refund of their Visa Application Charge, worth $495, if they come to Australia in the next 12 weeks.

If the holder of a Student Visa was to return within the next eight weeks then he or she will also be eligible for a refund visa application charge which is $630.

A press release from Alex Hawke the Minister of Immigration, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs stated that the changes would also apply for new applications and would be quickly processed so that the applicants could come to Australia within the refund window.

“As well as providing an incentive for existing offshore visa holders to bring forward their travel, these changes will generate new interest in Australia and new visa applications” Mr Hawke said in the statement.

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“The provision of refunds and priority visa processing, together with a Tourism Australia advertising campaign, will generate fresh interest in Australia from students and Working Holiday Makers who contribute greatly to our economy and fill vital skills gaps.”

He said that because of the current work shortages, the federal government would temporarily remove the limit on working hours imposed on Student-Visa holders in all sectors of the economy.

This measure takes effect immediately for all ongoing students as well as new student arrivals who start a job prior to their course commencement, and will be reviewed in April 2022, the minister said.

Mr Hawke said that effective immediately and until the end of the year there would be no limit on the length of time the holders of Working Holiday Maker visas could work for the same employer.

“There are currently around 150,000 Student and 23,500 Working Holiday Maker visa holders offshore. All international arrivals must be fully vaccinated or hold a valid medical exemption, Mr Hawke said.

More information is available on the Department of Home Affairs website.