FAQ Covid-19 –Student Visa Holders

The Federal Government has made further announcements regarding student visa holders in Australia. 

We recommend that visa holders regularly check the Department’s website for the latest news:Temporary Visa Holders Frequently Asked Questions.

Here are some of the frequently asked questions (FAQ) by Students Visa holders in this time of uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am an International student can I defer my course during the pandemic?

Deferral of studies is possible in limited circumstances, such as compassionate or compelling reasons. This can be discussed with your education provider. A new Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) and a new student visa application would be needed to cover the new period of study. Study Cairns is doing an excellent job in supporting and updating International students. You can find their latest newsletter here.

Migration Plus is working in partnership with Study Cairns to provide consultations for students over the phone or Skype.

Can I ask for deferral of my course due to financial hardship?

Deferral (pausing until a later date) is possible only in limited compelling and compassionate circumstances, such as serious illness, bereavement of close family member, traumatic experience affecting your ability to study and other limited circumstances. Financial hardship may not be an acceptable reason for seeking deferral of your course. We  recommend that you discuss your circumstances with your education provider and seek their support.  

You may find more information in Standard 9 of the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018. Deferring your course may have serious consequences for your student visa, we recommend that you obtain migration advice before deferring your studies.

I am facing financial hardship, is there any assistance available to student visa holders?

As a general advice, temporary visa holders are usually not eligible for social benefits, except in some limited circumstances.

The Federal Government announced that International students and other visitors who cannot support themselves should make arrangements to depart Australia. Additionally, Students who have been in Australia longer than 12 months who find themselves in financial hardship will be able to access their Australian superannuation.

Some organisation such as the Red Cross and UN Migration Agency are offering support for temporary visa holders. For further information please see our article about assistance for temporary visa holders here.

The Tasmanian government has also announced that it will be providing financial assistance for temporary visa holders in Tasmania. Further details for eligible applicants can be found here.

The Queensland Government announced a $15m fund for international students facing financial hardship. This new package includes:

- assistance for Queensland Universities bursaries and support services (please contact your education provided to see if this may apply to you)

- one-off payment to private VET and ELICOS students. If you meet the eligibility criteria you may be eligible for a one-off payment of $500.

Please see Study Queensland website for eligibility criteria and applications at the following address: https://www.studyqueensland.qld.gov.au/Live/Student-Support/Information-COVID-19/QLD-Crisis-Assistance-Package

You can also contact email/StudyQLDISCrisisAssistance)(communities.qld.gov.au for further details and questions about the application for financial assistance.

I am an International student can I work full-time during the pandemic?

You can work unlimited hours if your course is considered ‘out of session’ or if you are studying a Master by research or doctorate course and have started your studies.

Courses are considered ‘out of session’ during scheduled course breaks or if a student has finished their course as scheduled.

 You can also work over 40 hours per fortnight if your course has been deferred.

If you are currently 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, or

-          By a registered supermarkets until the 1st of May 2020, or

-          In aged care by an Approved Provider or Commonwealth-funded aged care service provider, or

-          By a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme provider.

You may be able to work more than 40 hours a fortnight. Further details including the list of approved employers can be found on the Department’s website.

My course provider is only offering online study at the moment, would I breach my visa conditions?

The Government has advised that it will be taking a flexible approach in relation to student visa conditions where COVID-19 restrictions have prevented applicant to meet their visa conditions, such as attendance at class or use of online learning.

 You should contact your education provider to ensure that you will receive the same standard of study and that you are complying with your student visa requirements.


If any of the above circumstances apply to you or you have any other concerns regarding your visa and legal status in Australia, contact us for individualised advice.

We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.