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Visa changes aimed at backpackers, returning students


The federal government will rebate visa application fees for backpackers and international students heading to Australia in an attempt to address the workforce shortage.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Wednesday the $630 fee for international students would be covered for the next eight weeks, while they will be covered for backpackers for 12 weeks.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the initiative was set to cost $55 million.

Morrison said there are 150,000 international students and 23,500 backpackers with visas and his message was clear – “come on down”.

“We want you to come to Australia and enjoy a holiday here … move all the way around the country,” he said.

“At the same time, join our workforce and help us in our agricultural sector, in our hospitality sector, and so many of the other parts of the economy that rely on that labour.”

Regarding international students, Morrison said he was encouraging them to be back for the start of the university year as a “thank you for choosing Australia”.

“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,” he said.

He also encouraged states to ease any lingering restrictions on international arrivals.

“I’d be encouraging them to look at those rules to make sure they can get those critical workers in,” Morrison said.

The government will also give $3 million to Tourism Australia for a marketing campaign targeting backpackers and students.

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