Working in Australia

To find out about all conditions for working while studying, please go to the Australian Government Conditions for working while studying page.

People granted student visas on or after April 2008 will receive permission to work with their visa grant. This will apply to both the primary student and any family members travelling with them on their student visa. As a result, most student visa holders will no longer need to apply separately in Australia for permission to work. The new arrangement will save student visa holders time and money.

For more information, please see Fact Sheet: New permission to work arrangement for student visa holders [PDF, 77.59 KB] (opens in a new window).

If you were granted a Student visa before April 2008 and have not yet applied for permission to work, you and your family members may only apply for Permission to Work after you have started your course in Australia.

Looking for work

Western Sydney University Careers provides online services for students to assist in searching for jobs, tips on resume writing, careers events and workshops and consultations with careers education consultants.

Popular job listing pages in Australian include MyCareer (opens in a new window) and Seek (opens in a new window). These are an independent service, not provided by The University.

40 hours per fortnight work condition

From March 2012, student work visa conditions will be measured as 40 hours per fortnight instead of the current 20 hours per week.

Under the new arrangements, international students will be able to work up to forty hours per fortnight once their course has commenced and during any period in which their course is in session. They will be able to work unrestricted hours during any scheduled course break.  This change will apply to both new and existing student visa holders and to both students and their dependents on a student visa.

Note: Students studying a Masters by research, or doctorate (PhD) can work unlimited hours once they have started their course.

Note: Family members of students studying a Masters by coursework or research, or doctorate (PhD) can work unlimited hours once the primary visa holder has started their course. Check your visa conditions on VEVO (Visa entitlement verification online)

A fortnight means a period of 14 days commencing on any Monday and ending on the second following Sunday.

The following example demonstrates how the condition will be applied.  A student visa holder works the following numbers of hours over a four week period (after their course has commenced):

  • Week 1 - 15 hours work
  • Week 2 - 25 hours work
  • Week 3 - 25 hours work
  • Week 4 - 10 hours work

In the fortnight comprising weeks 1 and 2 above (40 hours worked in that 14 day period) or in the fortnight comprising weeks 3 and 4 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 2 and 3 above (50 hours worked in that 14 day period).

Work won't count towards the 40 hour limitation if the work was specified as a requirement in the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (opens in a new window) (CRICOS). If an elective is a requirement of the course but the work itself was not registered with CRICOS, students can still complete these electives but it would be counted towards the 40 hour work limitation. This may be the case even if the student is not being paid for undertaking the work.

However, volunteer work, that is work that would not normally attract remuneration, may be exempt.

It is important to abide by your student visa conditions and know your rights in the workplace.

Visa Protections - Advice from the Fair Work Ombudsman

Your employer can't cancel your visa, even if it's been breached. Only the Department of Home affairs can grant, cancel or refuse visas. The Fair Work Ombudsman has set up an arrangement with the Department of Home Affairs to support and encourage migrant workers to come forward to request assistance and provide them with any evidence or information about exploitation. This will help the Ombudsman to better understand the issues faced by visa holders and migrant workers so that they can educate employers and employees about entitlements and obligations.

The agreement with the Department of Home Affairs is that a persons temporary visa will not be cancelled if they:

  • had an entitlement to work as part of their visa
  • believe they have been exploited at work
  • have reported their circumstances to us
  • are actively assisting us in an investigation

This applies as long as:

  • they commit to abiding by visa conditions in the future
  • there is no other basis for visa cancellation (such as on national security, character, health or fraud grounds)

For temporary visa holders who do not have work entitlements attached to their visa, The Department of Home Affairs will consider the case on it merits.

Read more about workplace rights for all visa holders working in Australia on the Department of Home affairs website (opens in a new window) and The Fair Work Ombudsman (opens in a new window) website

When is my course in session?

Immigration defines when a course is in and out of session. Your course is considered 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

Your course is considered to be out of session:

  • during scheduled course breaks between study sessions, semesters, terms or quarters
  • if your course has been deferred or suspended in line with Standard 9 of the National Code of Practice (opens in a new window) for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students
  • if you have completed your course as scheduled (as per the dates listed on your CoE) and still hold a valid visa
  • if your enrolment has been cancelled due to the default of your education provider (opens in a new window) until you secure alternative enrolment and commence the course

To find out about all conditions for working while studying, please go to the Australian Government Conditions for working while studying page. (opens in a new window)

Volunteer work

If you are doing voluntary, unpaid work, it is 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 (that is, it is a designated volunteer position), and
  • is genuinely voluntary (that is, no remuneration, either in cash or kind is received—board and lodging acceptable

Course Practical Work

You may undertake a work placement as part of your course requirements as long as it is a registered part of your course. Check with your Head of Degree Program, or Western Sydney University International if the work is a registered component of the course.

Visa Label

You do not need a visa label to be placed in your passport as evidence of your work rights. Your visa information is held electronically and you can access it at any time using the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system (opens in a new window). Employers, banks and government services can also check details about your visa entitlements on VEVO once they have your consent to do so.

Tax File Number

If you intend to earn money in Australia you will generally be required to have a tax file number (TFN), a unique number issued by the Tax Office to individuals and organisations for identification and record keeping purposes.

More Information