International students in Australia
Eligible international students in Australia who are in financial strain due to COVID-19 may access their superannuation early. Source: SAEED KHAN/AFP

International students in Australia who have been financially affected by COVID-19 and who have applied for an early release of superannuation could get their funds in the 2020/21 financial year. 

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) said, “If you are eligible and applied for your COVID-19 early release of super in late June 2020, you may receive your money from your fund in the 2020/21 financial year.”

Applications for the 2019/20 financial year closed on June 30. Temporary residents are not eligible to apply for COVID-19 early release of superannuation in the 2020/21 financial year.

Individuals will not need to pay tax on amounts released and will not need to include it in their tax return, said ATO.

Under the COVID-19 early release of superannuation, eligible temporary residents can apply to access up to 10,000 Australian dollars in their funds.

COVID-19 financial assistance for international students in Australia

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison received backlash from the public when he said that it was time for international students to “return to their home countries” if they cannot support themselves in the country.

Also echoing Morrison was David Coleman, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, who said in a press statement, “In line with changes being made for Australian citizens and permanent residents, most temporary visa holders with work rights will now be able to access their Australian superannuation to help support themselves during this crisis.”

He added that temporary visa holders who are unable to support themselves under these arrangements over the next six months are strongly encouraged to return home.

Many international students were stranded as some had lost their part-time jobs while others could not return to their home countries due to lockdowns. 

Assistance from both the Australian government as well as the governments of students’ respected countries were slow to trickle in, with many students turning to their universities for financial aid. 

Following this, the Australian Government announced on April 4 that international students who have been in Australia for over a year and who find themselves in financial hardship during the pandemic will be able to access their superannuation (or “super”).

Students who are paid AU$450 or more in a month may be entitled to the fund.

In normal circumstances, international students are only eligible to access their superannuation once they permanently depart Australia or if their visa has expired or been cancelled.

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