With a skills shortage causing major concerns across Australia’s hospitality and tourism sectors, the Federal Government has provided more visa flexibility to increase its support.
The Government will remove existing work hour caps for Student Visa holders employed in the tourism and hospitality sector; a 40-hours per fortnight limit previously applied during study periods.
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. This decision adds tourism and hospitality to the critical sectors of agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care and child care for eligibility for this visa subclass.
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.
The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alex Hawke, said: “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.
“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 Australian Hotels Association (AHA) and Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) applauded the move, with AHA CEO Stephen Ferguson saying: “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.
“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.”
TAA CEO Michael Johnson added: “[This’ announcement follows long term advocacy by TAA and the AHA, with the two visa amendments reflecting what our associations had requested on behalf of our members,” Mr Johnson said.
“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.”