408 Temporary Activity Visa VS 500 Student Visa

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408 Temporary Activity Visa VS 500 Student Visa

In the last few days, there have been many headlines in the news attracting the attention of all temporary visa holders in Australia, such as:

  • The temporary relaxations of work restrictions for Student Visa Holders employed at aged-care facilities, disability programs, tourism, hospitality, health, and agriculture.
  • Re-opening of Australian borders to all temporary visa holders in mid-2022. Some reports state intentions to accelerate the process later this year, with the NSW Government planning to allow entry for international students in August this year.
  • Subclass 408 visa is now also available for those who are working in the hospitality or tourism industries.

The above news has created some excitement and confusion for those who are on temporary visas right now. Hence, we asked our partner migration agency Astute Immigration Advisory shed some light on the pros and cons of choosing either of the above options. 




Tourism and hospitality have been added to the critical sectors of agriculture, food processing, health care, aged care, disability care, and childcare for eligibility for the Subclass 408 COVID-19 Pandemic Event visa. Temporary visa holders employed in the tourism and hospitality sector can now access this SC 408 stream for 12 months.


Temporary visa holders working in or intending to work in tourism and hospitality will be able to apply for the SC 408 COVID-19 Visa up to 90 days before their existing visa expires and then remain in Australia for up to 12 additional months.


However, it is not as easy as it sounds. The application must be supported by detailed evidence that you are working in a critical sector and that the employer could not employ an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident to fill your position. 


Furthermore, this visa requires you to work for a critical sector and does not provide you with a pathway to Permanent Residency. It is important to note that the Delegate may grant this visa for you only for the duration of 3 months.




The previous 40-hour fortnightly limit applied during study periods will not be enforced for student visa holders who are working in the tourism and hospitality industry.

The Department is taking a flexible approach to students working beyond the usual work limitations in the following industries:

  • employed in the health sector, enrolled in a health-related course (such as nursing or medicine) and are directed by a health official to assist in the effort against COVID‑19
  • employed in aged care by an Approved Provider or Commonwealth-funded aged care service provider before 8 September 2020
  • employed by a registered National Disability Insurance Scheme provider before 23 April 2020
  • employed in the agriculture sector
  • employed in the tourism and hospitality sector

To work in the aged care, disability, agriculture, or hospitality and tourism sectors, you do not need to study in the same field. Hence, you should pursue studies that will provide you with better chances to stay in Australia permanently. Remember – this is a temporary arrangement only and will be reverted once the economy bounces back from COVID-19.


The additional work experience during your studies may assist you if you are pursuing the occupation of Chef. However, you must have post-graduate experience in all other fields to meet further skilled or employer-sponsored visa requirements. 


Accordingly, Astute Immigration Advisory recommends sticking with a student visa if you plan to stay in Australia permanently. 


*As per our partners’ Astute Migration Advice

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