Does an Online Course with a Work Experience Requirement Fall Under the Restrictions of a Working Holiday Visa?
Now, before I continue with this post, please note that this information is not meant to be any form of legal or immigration advice, but rather an informative source that has come from a very knowledgeable acquaintance. Please do not use this information as a substitute for the advice of an immigration lawyer or consultant.
While I was preparing for my return to Australia to undertake my professional legal training (PLT) and become an Australian lawyer, I had the problem of choosing which visa to apply under. The online nature of Bond’s off-campus online PLT does not adhere to the requirements of a study visa. Unfortunately, I was also unable to apply for the 485 post-grad work visa because for some reason, the application would not be sent while I was trying to apply in Australia.
My only option was to undertake a working holiday subclass 417 visa (to my knowledge) and I proceeded to research whether or not this visa was a feasible option to take. In particular, I was concerned about whether my education pursuit was considered to be “study” under the requirements of the visa. If so, I was limited to how long I could undertake the PLT course and I wanted to know if the work internship component of the PLT with another law firm constituted study by definition (even if it was paid.)
Needless to say, answering this particular question was very difficult. However, thanks to the generosity of Alan Freckelton, I was given a few resources to assist with my search and ultimately make my decision to return to Australia.
The Procedural Advice Manual
In the Procedural Advice Manual (PAM), the following extracts were relevant to my situation:
2.1 Limited study is permitted
Subclass 417 (Working Holiday) and 462 (Work and Holiday) visas
Schedule 8 condition 8548 (‘The holder must not engage in any studies or training in Australia for more than 4 months’) applies to all Subclass 417 and 462 visas (where the application is made on or after 1 July 2006), and allows these visa holders to undertake study or training for a total period of up to 4 months within the validity of the visa.
The limitation applies to all kinds of study, undertaken on a full or part time basis. See also section 2.2 Type of study allowed.
The study and training limitation is not retrospective, and persons who are granted a second subclass 417 (Working Holiday) visa may undertake further study or training while on their second visa for a further 4 months.
Note: Workplace based training is not considered to be study or training under condition 8548. For the purpose of subclass 417 and 462 visas, workplace based training is considered to be employment. For policy and procedure on the employment limitation for 417 and 462 visas, refer to PAM3: Sch8/8547.
2.2 Type of study allowed
Correspondence courses which may otherwise be undertaken by the applicant outside Australia are not subject to condition 8548. Subclass 417 and 462 visa holders may undertake such courses with no limitation on the period of study.
Basically, the text suggests that work performed as part of a course (i.e. requiring to undertake a work internship component in order to complete a school program) is considered “work” rather than study.
Further, an online course is not considered study for the purposes of the work vacation visa.
What this means is that if you are under a work vacation visa in Australia, you are free to pursue any online academic accreditation you desire and it will not affect any of your visa conditions. This would be a great option to take if you are pursuing more educational credentials but would also like the chance to explore another country.
However, since an internship counts as work as opposed to study, you may also still be under the work vacation restriction that limits employment under a single employer to a maximum of 6 months unless you apply for an extension. This may be relevant to you if you undertake an internship and your workplace later decides to hire you on a more permanent basis.