Working while you are an international student

Can I work if I am an international student?

If you are a student visa holder, you and your dependant family members have permission to work included with your visa. You and your family members must not breach the work conditions that apply to your student visa.

Work conditions for student visa holders
You cannot work until you have commenced your course in Australia. Once your course has commenced you are permitted to work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight when your course is in session, and unlimited hours when your course is out of session. Work that is formally registered as part of your course is not included in the 40 hours per fortnight limitation.

Student visa holders and their dependants who are subject to visa condition 8104 or 8105, may take part in volunteer work outside of the 40 hours per fortnight work limitation if:

  • their main purpose is to study in Australia and voluntary work remains secondary to this
  • the work involved would not otherwise be undertaken by an Australian resident
  • the work is genuinely voluntary for a non-profit organisation and no remuneration, in cash or kind, is received in return for the activity

Unpaid work that does not fit within the above description of volunteer work is counted towards the 40 hours per fortnight limitation.

If you are a postgraduate research student:

  • you can work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight during any preliminary courses you undertake
  • if you have commenced your masters by research or doctoral degree in Australia, there is no limit on the number of hours you may work
 
Fortnights
A fortnight is a period of 14 days commencing on any Monday and ending on the second following Sunday. Here is an example of how 40 hours a fortnight is calculated.

After their course has commenced, a student visa holder works the following numbers of hours over a four week period:

  • week one - 15 hours work
  • week two - 25 hours work
  • week three - 25 hours work
  • week four - 10 hours work
The total hours worked in week two and week three is more than 40 hours. This means the student is non-compliant with the work limitation and may be subject to visa cancellation.
 
Defining course in session and out of session
The Department of Home Affairs considers your course to be in session:
  • for the duration of the advertised semesters, including exam periods
  • when you are undertaking another course, during a break from your main course and points from that course will be credited to your main course

They consider your course to be out of session:

Elective courses with work requirements
Work won't count towards the 40-hour limitation if the work was specified as a requirement of the course when the course particulars were entered in the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). If an elective is a requirement of the course but the work itself was not specified when the course was registered with CRICOS, you can still complete these electives but it would be counted towards the 40 hour work limitation. This may be the case even if you are not being paid for undertaking the work. However, volunteer work, that is work that would not normally attract remuneration, may be exempt.

Additional information about student visa work conditions
You can view your visa online using Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO). VEVO is a free service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It allows you, and your employer (with your permission), to view your visa details online.

For more information about permission to work while studying, visit the Department of Home Affairs website. If you hold a visa other than a Student Visa, please contact the Department for information about any restrictions that may apply to your visa, telephone 131 881.

The UWA Careers Centre advertises part-time and casual work which may be suitable for international students.

You must obtain a Tax File Number to be able to work in Australia. This is available from the Australian Taxation Office.

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