Working while studying in Australia

If you are an international student working in Australia, it is important you know your rights, entitlements and protections in the workplace.

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Did you know:

  • it is illegal for an employer to treat you any differently to other workers based on your gender, religion, culture or nationality?
  • you may be entitled to higher pay for working at night, on the weekend or during a public holiday?
  • your employer cannot dismiss you if you are away from work temporarily due to illness?
  • The Fair Work Ombudsman provides a free service to all people working in Australia. They have a range of information available on their website to help you understand your rights at work.

The Working Holiday Maker visa programme

Australia’s Working Holiday Maker visa programme is a great way for young people aged 18-30 to have an extended holiday in Australia and earn money through short-term employment. There are two types of Working Holiday Maker visas: Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) and Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462). The visa you should apply for depends on your country of citizenship. These types of visas allow you to stay and work in Australia for up to 12 months.

Generally, you can only ever get a Working Holiday Maker visa once – it’s a once in a lifetime experience! The second Working Holiday (Subclass 417) visa initiative is the exception – if you do 88 days specified work in regional Australia, you are eligible to apply for a second visa. You can read all the details about what ‘regional Australia’ is and what ‘specified work’ is on the visa applicants tab of the Working Holiday visa page.

The second Working Holiday visa initiative helps encourage Working Holiday visa holders to get out of the big cities and spend some time working in other parts of Australia.  It also helps businesses that are making an important contribution to the Australian economy to have the workers they need to run their business, particularly in seasonal peaks.

So what’s changing?

The second Working Holiday visa initiative has proven popular with businesses and visa holders over the years, but unfortunately some people haven’t been doing the right thing.  Some visa holders are claiming for work that was never done, and some employers aren’t paying their employees a lawful wage for their work.

That’s why if you’re doing specified work after 31 August, you’ll need to make sure you have pay slips that cover each day of work when you submit your application for a second Working Holiday visa.  Electronic copies of applicants pay slips can be uploaded as attachments to your online second Working Holiday visa application, or hardcopies can be provided with a paper application.

What if I’m not given pay slips from my employer?

Don’t be afraid to ask your employer for pay slips – it’s your legal right, and they have to contain certain information. For more information about pay slips, go to:

How do I know if I’ve been paid the right amount?

In some cases, your pay rate will be set by the national minimum wage, which is currently $17.29 per hour (before tax).  You may be entitled to a higher rate if you are covered by an award, enterprise agreement or other registered agreement. For more information about pay, and to use the ‘Pay Calculator’, go to:

What about volunteer work?

We know that some groups, like Willing Workers on Organic Farms, promote themselves to Working Holiday visa holders.

If you’d like to volunteer some of your time to help out doing activities that count as specified work, you can, but you won’t be able to count it towards your 88 days specified work if you start the volunteer work after 31 August 2015.

If you started the volunteer work before 31 August, you will be able to count all days worked on the placement, even if you finish up after 31 August.

If you finished volunteer work before 31 August that counts as specified work, you can include these days towards your 88 days specified work if you apply for a second Working Holiday visa.

Information on the change is available here.

Changes to the Minister of Religion application process for employer sponsored visas

Changes have been made to the application process for nominating a Minister of Religion for an employer sponsored visa.

Religious organisations who wish to bring Ministers of Religion to Australia on a temporary or permanent basis for employment must now do so via the available Ministers of Religion Industry Labour Agreement.

From 1 July 2015, the occupation of Minister of Religion (ANZSCO 272211) will be not be eligible for the Direct Entry Stream or Temporary Residence Transition stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, or the Temporary Work (Skilled) Subclass 457 visa.

Rather, religious organisations must sign up to the Minister of Religion Industry Labour Agreement before lodging a nomination for the Agreements Stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme, or to become a sponsor for the Subclass 457 visa.

These changes will uphold the integrity of our employer sponsored visa programmes and continue supporting religious organisations to meet the spiritual needs of Australia’s multicultural society.


Under the changes that came into effect on 1 July 2015, Ministers of Religion will no longer be exempt from the age, skill and English language requirements that were available under the Direct Entry and Temporary Residence Transition streams.

All visa applications lodged on or after 1 July 2015 must meet the standard age, skill and English language requirements or meet one of the other exemption criteria. If an applicant is nominated for the Agreement stream, they must meet the requirements as outlined in the Minister of Religion Labour Agreement in order to be granted a visa.

Applications lodged before 1 July 2015

Employer nominations and visa applications lodged before 1 July 2015 will not be affected by these changes. These nominations and visa applications will be processed under the previous arrangements.

If an employer nomination for a Minister of Religion is lodged before 1 July 2015 and is then approved, the corresponding visa application can be lodged for the relevant stream for the Employer Nomination Scheme or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.

However, visa applications lodged on or after 1 July 2015 must meet the standard age, skill and English requirements for the relevant stream. No exemptions to age, skill and English will be available to applications lodged on or after 1 July 2015.

Nominations for the Temporary Residence Transition stream from 1 July 2015 for existing subclass 457 visa holders

Employer nominations for the Temporary Residence Transition stream for a Minister of Religion are possible if the visa applicant was granted their most recent Subclass 457 visa to work as a Minister of Religion for a standard business sponsor prior to 1 July 2015. This is also the case where an application was lodged before 1 July 2015 and the Subclass 457 visa granted after this date.

More information and assistance

To find out more about the labour agreement process, see the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website here.

Interested employers or prospective visa applications may wish to engage a registered migration agent for assistance. More information about using a migration agent is available here.

Are you a skilled worker interested in migrating to Australia? – visit SkillSelect today

Are you a skilled worker interested in migrating to Australia? SkillSelect is an online system that allows you to quickly and easily enter your details to be considered for an invitation to apply for a skilled visa.

SkillSelect identifies overseas workers with the skills that are most in need in Australia. To find out if you have a skill that Australia needs, have a look at the Skilled Occupation lists on our website. State or territory governments will use SkillSelect to identify and select skilled workers that they wish to nominate for a skilled visa.  If you are nominated by a state or territory government, this will increase your opportunity to receive an invitation.

Over 39,000 invitations for skilled visas were issued in the 2014-15 programme year. 


So if you have a skill that Australia needs and you meet the visa requirements, log into SkillSelect today and tell us about yourself and what you can bring to Australia’s workplace. You may be invited to lodge a skilled visa application sooner than you expect.

If you’d like to find out more about SkillSelect you can read previous blog posts or visit the SkillSelect website.

Australia’s 2015-16 Migration Programme

Up to 190,000 permanent migration places will be available in 2015-16 as announced by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection  as part of the Budget on 12 May 2015.

The number of permanent places available will remain the same as last year.   This includes up to:

  • 128,550 places for skilled migrants, including employer sponsored, general skilled and business categories;
  • 57,400 places for family migrants sponsored by immediate family members; and
  • 565 places for special eligibility migrants, who include former permanent residents who have maintained close business, cultural or personal ties with Australia.

Additionally, at least 3,485 permanent Child visa places will be available outside the managed Migration Programme.

What has changed?

Whilst the overall size and composition of the programme remain the same as last year there are changes in how the programme will be managed affecting the Child category visa and Orphan relative visas.

Child category visas (excluding Orphan Relative) will no longer be counted under the managed Migration Programme. This is in response to the Government’s commitment to reform and improve the processes relating to inter-country adoption.  The Child category will continue to be carefully monitored while it transitions to a fully demand-driven model by 2019-20.

Orphan Relative visas will now form part of the Other Family category within the Migration Programme with 400 places allocated to Orphan Relative visas.

For more details about the 2015-16 Migration Programme read the Ministerial Media Release or Fact Sheet 20 – Migration Programme planning levels.

Here is a breakdown of the planning levels for each visa category:

2015-16 Migration Programme
  Planning level
Employer Sponsored 48,250
Skilled Independent 43,990
State/Territory & Regional Nominated 28,850
Business Innovation & Investment Programme 7,260
Distinguished Talent 200
Total Skill Stream 128,550
Partner 47,825
Parent 8,675

Other Family

·         Orphan Relative



Total Family Stream 57,400
Special Eligibility Stream 565
Total managed Migration Programme 186,515
Child (outside the managed Migration Programme) 3,485
Total permanent migration places 190,000


Share your thoughts

We’d like your feedback on the points test for the Business Innovation and Investment Programme.

The Business Innovation and Investment Programme (BIIP) was created in 2012 to attract high quality investors and entrepreneurs to Australia. It includes the Investor visa, the Business Innovation visa, and the Significant Investor visa, and the newly introduced Premium Investor visa (PIV).

The Department previously announced that the pass mark for the points test for the Business Innovation and Investment streams within the BIIP would be reduced from 65 points to 50 from 1 July 2015. This change has now been postponed pending further consultation.

The Federal Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Migration recently completed an Inquiry into the BIIP. In its report, it recommended that the Department undertake further examination of the points test. In light of this recommendation, the Department is undertaking further analysis and consideration of the appropriateness of the current points test threshold.

The Department will also examine the effect of other changes to the application rate for the BIIP, including reforms to the Significant Investor stream, and the reinstatement of role swapping for the Investor and Business Innovation streams, which came into effect on 1 July 2015.

Updated information on the BIIP, including the new PIV, is available on the Department’s new website. If you have feedback in relation to the points test component or other elements of the programme, we would welcome your feedback in the comments below.

From today, we’ve changed web and email address


Today marks the official integration of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, as well as the establishment of the Australian Border Force.

To support this integration, our new website was launched at, meaning the Migration Blog’s address has also changed to While internet search engines for and will redirect to our new web address, please ensure you update your browser’s bookmarks.

Our Department’s email domain has also changed to While information sent to former and email addresses will be delivered to the intended recipients at, please update your contact details.

Applications that are accessed using the former or websites, such as ImmiAccount, VEVO, ICS or the Customs Connect Facility, will not be affected by this change and will continue to function as normal on our new website.

Investing in Australia’s future – Changes to business and investment migration

The Business Innovation and Investment Programme (BIIP) was created to attract high quality investors and entrepreneurs to Australia. It currently includes the Investor visa, the Business Innovation visa, and the Significant Investor visa (SIV). From 1 July 2015 it will also include the Premium Investor visa (PIV).

On 15 May 2015, the Minister for Trade and Investment, the Hon Andrew Robb AO MP and Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Honourable Michaelia Cash announced the new complying investment framework for the SIV and PIV. In order to be granted a SIV or a PIV, an applicant will need to make an investment that complies with the complying investment framework.

The framework is designed to encourage investment in innovative Australian ideas and emerging companies. You can view the media release here and details on the new framework here.

Along with the new complying investment framework, the government intends to make a number of changes to the BIIP from 1 July 2015.

New flexible residency arrangements will be introduced for the SIV. From 1 July 2015, eligibility for the permanent SIV will require either the primary applicant to reside in Australia for 40 days per year OR the secondary applicant (spouse or de facto partner) to reside in Australia for 180 days per year. This residency requirement will be per year and will be calculated cumulatively over the period of the provisional visa. For example, 160 days over four years for a primary applicant or 720 days over four years for the secondary applicant (spouse or de facto partner).

Also from 1 July 2015, Austrade will become an eligible nominator for the SIV, in addition to State and Territory governments. Austrade will also be the sole nominator for the PIV.

Aside from changes to the SIV and the PIV, there is a change that applies only to the Investor and Business Innovation streams, which is the reintroduction of role swapping. This  will allow a secondary applicant to apply to fulfil the primary criteria for the permanent visa on behalf of the primary applicant.

If you have any questions, check out our website.


Refugee Week 2015: Celebrating a global milestone in the resettlement of refugees from Bhutan

This year marks an important global achievement as the 100,000th refugee from Bhutan is expected to depart refugee camps in Nepal for resettlement.

Since 2005, Australia has played a key role in the international resettlement of refugees from Bhutan. Australia has worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other major resettlement countries to help achieve a resolution for one of the most protracted refugee situations in Asia.

Australia has welcomed close to 5500 refugees from Bhutan, who have settled in both regional and metropolitan areas around Australia and  arecontributing to Australian society and their local communities.

Refugee Week acknowledges the experiences of refugees and their contribution to Australia.

Has your visa expired? You can do something about your situation

If you are in Australia and your visa has expired, you should contact our Community Status Resolution Service (CSRS) as soon as possible. CSRS_WebsiteTiles_300x300

The CSRS is a free service that works with people who have overstayed their visa to help you work through your options.

If you work with us to resolve your immigration status, you may be granted a bridging visa. This lets you stay in Australia for a short time and live in the community while you resolve your immigration status.

If you are found living in the community without a visa, there are serious consequences.

You have a choice – do something about your situation and contact our Community Status Resolution Service.

For more information, visit or call 1300 853 773.