Working while you are an international student

Can I work if I am an international student?

Answer ID 921 | Last updated on 17/01/2022 12.53 PM

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

Temporary relaxation of working hours for international student visa holders
To support the supply of certain services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force will take a flexible approach to student visa holders, including those working beyond their usual work limitations, but only in certain sectors. Please read the specific information at the Department’s website.

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.

The Department of Home Affairs website has an example of how the 40 hours a fortnight is calculated under Condition 8105 working restriction.

As information about visa conditions may change, student visa holders should refer to their particular conditions and check on the Home Affairs web page for the breakdown of each condition.

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 you 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:

  • during scheduled course breaks
  • if you have completed your course as scheduled (as per the dates listed on your CoE) and still hold a valid student visa
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. Always check with the Department of Home Affairs if you have any concerns – telephone 131 881.
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 
  • Fair Work Ombudsman - your work rights as an international student
  • Study in Australia - information about working and studying
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. It is a simple process which you can do online. 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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