COVID-19 and Support for International Students in Australia

With the outbreak of COVID-19, some international students are struggling to meet their living expenses in Australia. In light of this, some states are working with the education sector to provide support to international students in this unprecedented time. We have summarised the key support groups and contacts below:

Nationwide

Organisations which provide information and assistance nationwide. Some key contacts include:

Victoria

The Victorian Government has announced a $45 million fund to support international students in Victoria facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The fund is being delivered in partnership with Victoria’s tertiary education providers.

The International Student Emergency Relief Fund will provide a payment of up to A$1,100 for vulnerable international students who have lost their job or had a significant reduction to their employment and are facing financial hardship as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). The fund complements the range of relief programs offered by Victorian universities, education providers and existing government support.

Register your interest here.

International students from Victoria’s tertiary education providers including universities, TAFEs, private Vocational Education and Training providers and English language colleges are eligible to apply for the hardship payment.

  • COVID -19 Helpline (VIC): 1800 675 398

Study Melbourne has complied a list of community support and food relief for international students who have been affected by COVID-19. These support organisations assist with emergency food relief and/or financial assistance.

For accommodation support, Study Melbourne’s International Student Accommodation Legal Services offers free advice for international students with accommodation problems. To make an appointment, please email  info@studymelbourne.vic.gov.au.

New South Wales

NSW government and NGOs have support services available for international students living in NSW who are struggling to meet living expenses such as accommodation and food assistance.

Accommodation and Housing

Food Assistance

  • COVID -19 Helpline (NSW): 1800 022 222

Northern Territory

StudyNT has created care packages for international students who are affected by COVID-19. To get in touch with StudyNT, you can fill out their online form on https://studynt.nt.gov.au/news/support-international-students-impacted-coronavirus.

  • COVID -19 Helpline (NT): 1800 020 080

Australian Capital Territory

Study Canberra has advised international students to contact their education institution to support their health, wellbeing, and study plan.

  • COVID -19 Helpline (ACT): 1800 022 222

Queensland

Study Queensland has encouraged students who requires assistance to contact student hub networks. They can provide help through online appointments and telephone support. There is also a student hotline 1800QSTUDYwhich operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • COVID -19 Helpline (QLD): 13 43 25 84

South Australia

The South Australian Government in collaboration with University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the University of South Australia has committed $13.8 million into the International Student Support Package. The funds will be used to alleviate the hardship faced by international students living in South Australia. You can register your interest on https://studyadelaide.com/issp.

  • COVID -19 Helpline (SA): 1800 020 080

Tasmania

Government Education and & Training International Tasmania are working to consider temporary measures to tackle the changing circumstances due to COVID-19 outbreak. If you have questions about your financial situation, you can contact via email – info@geti.tas.gov.au or phone +61 3 6165 5727.

In the meantime, Government Education and & Training International has on their website some FAQ. You can access the FAQ on https://study.tas.gov.au/covid-19-international-student-information/.

  • COVID -19 Helpline (TAS): 1800 671 738

Western Australia

StudyPerth has provided useful information for international students in Western Australia who requires assistance with food and shelter. Below is a list of key contacts:

Food Assistance

Accommodation and Housing

 

MATEinOz represents International Students of all nationalities that are studying in Perth, Western Australia. They provide information and necessary advice for the successful integration in the city’s society and the completion of your studies.

 

  • COVID -19 Helpline (WA): 1800 020 080

Mental well-being

  • International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT), general travel health advice to help you stay well on your trip.
  • beyondblue: provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.
  • Black Dog Institute:Evidence-based resources to help individuals, workplaces, schools, parents and health professionals.
  • Butterfly Foundation: free National Helpline for caring and confidential information, counselling or referrals with specialist counsellors.
  • Head to Health : Psychological tips for coping with infectious diseases
  • Headspace: find out how you can seek support and get access to resources, tools and useful information to help you during this time.
  • Lifeline: Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
  • Mental Health Online: always here to help with your mental health, but during these difficult times, taking care of your mental health and wellbeing is especially important.
  • MindSpot: latest mental well-being advice, including top psychological tips for coping during the pandemic
  • On the Line: On the Line supports nearly 120,000 clients each year along the mental health continuum, from crisis support to the worried well.
  • QLife: Now more than ever accessing support is really important as we manage the challenges relating to COVID-19.
  • ReachOut: 10 ways to take care of yourself during coronavirus
  • SANE Australia: Phone, Online Counselling & Peer Support
  • THIS WAY UP: Your clinician can prescribe these courses and supervise you as you work through the lessons or you can take the self-help courses, available on
    desktop and mobile devices.

 

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The Government is taking a flexible approach in relation to student visa conditions where COVID-19 restrictions have prevented conditions being met, such as attendance at class or use of online learning.

If your study in Australia is ending, and you are unable to depart Australia, you can apply for a Visitor visa (subclass 600). You need to do this before your Student visa expires.

If your course is ‘out of session’

You can work unlimited hours if your course is considered ‘out of session’. Courses are considered ‘out of session’ during scheduled course breaks or if a student has finished their course as scheduled.

If you are studying a masters by research or a doctorate course

If you have commenced studying a masters by research or a doctorate course, you may work unlimited hours.

If your course has been deferred

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

Exemptions for some international students

Certain student visa holders can work for more than 40 hours per fortnight to support the supply of essential goods and services for Australians if they are:

  • Employed in the nursing sector
  • Employed by registered supermarkets (from 1 May 2020, this changes and students will only be able to work 40 hours per fortnight)
  • Employed in the aged care sector
Can I extend my Student visa?

Under Australian migration law, it is not possible to extend a Student visa.

You need to apply for a new visa if:

  • you cannot return to your home country and your visa is expiring
  • you need more time in Australia to complete your course.

You should apply for a new Student visa six weeks before your existing Student visa expires. There is no need to provide evidence of impacts of COVID-19 with your Student visa application.

If your study in Australia is ending, you can apply for a Visitor visa (subclass 600). You need to do this before your Student visa expires.

More information on the Visitor visa.

Some services relating to the visa application process may be impacted and a range of services are becoming unavailable. This includes panel doctors who undertake medical checks, English language testing facilities and biometric collection. While these services are unavailable, many applicants cannot meet visa requirements. Students will be given additional time to complete checks and provide the requested information.

Importantly though, making a new application before the current visa expires will give you a bridging visa to remain lawful while all requirements are met.

Australian study requirements

The Department of Home Affairs does not regulate mode of study requirements.
You should contact your education provider.

Please refer to the Joint TEQSA and ASQA statement relating to flexible delivery.

For the exceptions as a result of the travel restrictions, see the National Code requirements for affected tertiary students to undertake online study.

Notifying the Department

You do not need to notify the Department if you return home, or your study situation changes.

Your visa remains valid until you lodge another visa application, or your visa expires. The status of your visa will remain unchanged if you return home or defer your studies.

OSHC

OSHC assists international students to meet costs of medical/hospital care while in Australia. Check with your provider to see what you are covered for:

Access to superannuation for international students

The Government announced international students who have been in Australia for longer than 12 months and who find themselves in financial hardship during the coronavirus crisis will be able to access their Australian superannuation.

For COVID-19 visa related travel questions / 408 visa eligibility you can book a time here:

https://seekvisa.as.me/covid19 (25 min)

If you would like a comprehensive consultation which includes assessing you for other temporary and permanent visa options (Skilled visas, Employer Sponsored, Partner, etc.) as well, we recommend our standard 45 minute to 1 hour consultation which can be scheduled here:

https://seekvisa.as.me/skype (45 min)

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