Work while Studying in Australia as an International Student

As an international student in Australia, you can work part-time or full-time in some situations to complement what you learn in your classes.

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Work while Studying in Australia as an International Student
Written by Jennifer Aranda.
Updated February 7, 2018 | Australia

Once your visa application has been approved, you should check your visa conditions to know the number of hours that you (and your family members) can work while you are studying in Australia. Remember, you must comply with the state and territory laws of Australia.

Your application was approved based on your declaration that you have sufficient funds to cover your and your accompanying family members' living and tuition expenses in Australia.  Therefore, the Australian government will be expecting you not to rely on work to support yourself or your family while living in the country.

Generally, 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 not in session.

A fortnight is a period of 14 days commencing on any Monday and ending on the second following Sunday.  This is how 40 hours a fortnight is calculated once your course begins:

  • week one - 15 hours work
  • week two - 25 hours work
  • week three - 25 hours work
  • week four - 10 hours work.

In the fortnight comprising weeks one and two above (40 hours worked in that 14 day period) or in the fortnight comprising weeks three and four above (35 hours worked in that 14 day period), the work condition is not breached. However, the student visa holder has breached their work condition in the fortnight comprising weeks two and three above (50 hours worked in that 14 day period).

Return to the post Important Information about Australia Student Visa (Subclass 500).

Important Tip:  Your visa may be cancelled if you are discovered to have violated your work conditions.

Your course to be 'in session':

  • For the duration of the advertised semesters, including examination periods
  • if you have completed your studies and your Confirmation of Enrolment is still valid  (with the exception of masters by research or PhD students who have submitted their thesis for marking)
  • 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.

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

Work that is a formal registered part of your course is not included in the limit of 40 hours per fortnight.  While there are some very rare instances when you can do voluntary work without it being counted toward your fortnight limit, voluntary work could have been undertaken by an Australian resident who would have received a wage will be counted toward your cap of 40 hours. 

Your voluntary work is excluded from your fortnight limit if it:

  • Is of  benefit to the community
  • Is for a non-profit organisation
  • Is genuinely voluntary that is, you are not paid either in cash or other form of compensation.

The  following conditions also apply to your part-time work:

  • 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.
  • Family members:
    • Must not start work until you, the primary visa holder, have started your course in Australia
    • Can work up to 40 hours per fortnight at all times unless you have commenced a course towards a masters or doctoral degree and s/he holds a Student visa (subclass 500). In this case there is no limit on the number of hours a family member might work.

Got a question? Let us know - we're here to help.

About the Author

Jennifer Aranda

Jennifer Aranda

Jennifer S. Aranda is the COO of IVC Immigrant Visa Center, Inc.

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