Federal government’s new visa rebates

January 20, 2022
By Ioni Doherty

The federal government will financially incentivise fully vaccinated Student and Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa holders to return to Australia as soon as possible.

WHMs arriving in Australia over the next twelve weeks will be eligible for a refund of their visa applications ($495) and those working in critical sectors will be eligible to work additional hours. Working hours for students will be unlimited, regardless of industry, and those that arrive in the next eight weeks will receive a refund of $630 for their visa application fee. The incentives are intended to address the current workforce shortages caused by COVID-19 and have been welcomed by the Australian Hotels Association.

There are currently around 150,000 Student and 23,500 Working Holiday Maker visa holders offshore.

AHA National CEO Stephen Ferguson said that before the pandemic almost 400,000 international students and 250,000 WHMs were employed each year in Australia and many of them worked in pubs, hotels and restaurants across the country. 

He said that there are currently more than 100,000 positions vacant across the sector nationally and venues were being forced to close on certain days or reduce hours during their busiest period because they simply do not have the staff.  

“Our industry is struggling to recover from the worst 18 months in our history and the recovery is being hampered by a dire skills shortage across the nation,” he said. 

“Australia is in a global competition for international students and WHMs and anything that can increase our competitiveness is welcomed…when you lose thousands of people either off sick with the Omicron variant or isolating because of a close contact, many businesses have had to close altogether.”  

Mr Ferguson said the AHA is also targeting older workers who lost jobs during the pandemic and have the ‘soft skills’ needed to work in a pub.

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