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
Most student visas allow you to work for up to 40 hours every fortnight (two weeks) while your course is in session, and unrestricted hours during any scheduled course break. Before you undertake any paid work you need to make sure your visa allows you to work.  If you exceed the number of hours your are entitled to work, you will be 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. Refer to the published dates
  • 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 be paid, 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.
 
Further information 
The UWA Careers Centre advertises part-time and casual work which may be suitable for international students.
 
You will also need to get a tax file number (TFN) to work in Australia. Visit the Australian Taxation Office to find out how to apply for a TFN, as well as information about paying taxes in Australia.
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