Working while you study in Australia is a great opportunity to earn money, improve your English, gain skills and meet new people, but conditions and restrictions apply.
As an international student there are restrictions on the number of hours you can work while studying, even when you have permission to work. Make sure you understand your visa conditions and work restrictions.
International students should check with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) on the rules about working in Australia, as they may change.
Check your permission to work
You must have a valid Australian visa with permission to work. If you were granted a Student visa on or after 26 April 2008, you (and any dependent family members) will have Permission to Work automatically included with your visa.
The DIBP’s Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service lets you, your employer or education provider, check your visa details online.
Work conditions for student visa holders
One of the conditions of your student visa requires that you can work no more than 40 hours per fortnight while your course is "in session", that is, during the semester.
A fortnight is calculated as any period starting on a Monday and ending at the end of the second following Sunday.
The following conditions apply:
- You cannot work until you have started your course in Australia
- When your course has started you can work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight while your course is "in session" and unlimited hours when your course is not in session
- Work that’s a formal part of your course is not included in the limit of 40 hours per fortnight
- If you are doing voluntary, unpaid work, it’s not included in the limit of 40 hours per fortnight if it:
- is of benefit to the community
- is for a non-profit organisation would not otherwise be undertaken in return for wages by an Australian resident (for example, a volunteer position), and
- is genuinely voluntary (that is, no payment, either in cash or kind is received—board and lodging acceptable).
- If you are a subclass 574 (Postgraduate research sector) student visa holder and you have started your masters by research or doctorate course in Australia, you have unlimited work rights. Note the subclass 574 visa closed for new applications on 1 July 2016.
- If you have come to Australia with your spouse, s/he may also be allowed to work. You must confirm this with DIBP prior to your spouse starting work in Australia.
Visit the work conditions for student visa holders section of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website for more information.
Get a Tax File Number
You must have a Tax File Number (TFN) to be able to work in Australia. To apply for a TFN, refer to the Australian Taxation Office website.
If you decide you want to work in Australia after you graduate, you need to check whether your visa allows this or if you need to apply for a new visa.
There are several visa options under the General Skilled Migration program and Temporary Graduate Visa if you want to live in Australia after you’ve completed your studies.
- If you’ve recently graduated, with either an eligible qualification or with skills and qualifications that relate to an occupation on the skilled occupation list (SOL), you may be eligible for a Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa.
- Alternatively, a new employer may be able to sponsor you for a new visa – talk to their Human Resources or Recruitment staff.
- If you want to stay in Australia independently of employer sponsorship for a longer term or professional career, the General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa program is for people who have skills in particular occupations required in Australia. You can submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) through SkillSelect. (external link)
Check your visa conditions and find out more information about your visa options at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.