Overseas students arriving in Australia will have their visas refunded at a cost of 630 Australian dollars per student, stated Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in a recent statement released on Tuesday.
According to local media, the country would waive visa application fees for students and backpackers for at least the next three months as it seeks to fill crucial workforce shortages caused by COVID-19.
PM Morrison has stated that the national government will eliminate the 40-hour-per-fortnight maximum on student visa-holder workers, which would mean that international students would no longer be limited in the number of hours they could work.
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has exacerbated labour shortages across several industries in Australia, prompting a 40-hour-a-fortnight cap lift in pandemic-affected industries, according to a plan presented to state and territory leaders at a national cabinet meeting by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, according to the Australian Financial Review.
Even before Omicron exacerbated labour shortages, businesses were attempting to hire nearly 4,00,000 workers to fill unfilled positions.
According to the report, sectors such as home builders were unable to operate on-site due to close contact with a virus-infected person or contracting COVID-19 themselves. Part-time and late-night shifts at gas stations and convenience stores like 7-Eleven are frequently filled by overseas students.
The visa reimbursement scheme will run for the next eight weeks and will be coordinated by the Department of Home Affairs, according to 9News. Morrison expects that the visa application fee reduction will encourage international students to return to Australia.
There are around 1,50,000 students currently studying in Australia who have an authorized visa. International students who return to the country must be completely immunized.
Morrison stated that they will face the same quarantine arrangements that each state imposes and requires. As a “thank you for choosing Australia,” the Australia visa application rebate is part of a campaign to motivate students to return for the start of the university year.
“But we also want them to come here and to be filling some of these critical workforce shortages, particularly those who are working and being trained in health care, aged care, those types of sectors, that will be incredibly helpful,” Morrison was quoted saying.
The government will also provide Tourism Australia A$3 million for a marketing campaign aimed towards backpackers and students. The visa rebate plan is anticipated to cost A$55 million, according to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.