Working in Australia

To find out about conditions for working while studying, please go to the Rights & Obligations for International Students page on the Australian Government website. You can also check your visa conditions on your ImmiAccount.

Your student visa is issued with permission to work which applies to both yourself and your visa dependants who travel with you to Australia on the same visa. However, there are a few criteria that you have to fulfil before you can start working in Australia.

A few conditions are imposed on your student visa. One of them is condition 8104 or 8105 – Work Restriction

Work Restriction

You must not work in Australia before your course of study commences. This condition applies to your family members as well.

For undergraduate and postgraduate coursework students, once your course has commenced, you can work up to 40 hours in a fortnight while your course in session. A fortnight means the period of 14 days starting on a Monday. A course in session means:

  • 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

Postgraduate research students are allowed to work unrestricted hours once your course has started.

Work experience is included in a student’s work restriction of 40 hours per fortnight whether it is paid or unpaid.

Work experience is not counted towards the 40 hours if the unit is a mandatory component of your course. In this circumstance, the work experience will not be included in the student’s work restriction of 40 hours per fortnight. However, if you are enrolled in a work experience unit that is an elective unit, the hours will be counted towards your 40 hours.

What is considered as work?

  • attended a place of work for a period by a roster or timesheet (but not during unpaid breaks)
  • been 'clocked on' to an electronic system that records a work activity
  • received payment for work, as shown in a payslip you have received (unless you provide evidence that you were not working during this time)

You can work more than one job as long as the total hours are not more than 40 in a fortnight.

If you are studying a masters or a doctorate degree, your family members can work unrestricted hours one you started your course.

When you can work over 40 hours a fortnight

You are allowed to work over 40 hours a fortnight when:

  • it is a registered part of your course that is mandatory. Check with your School or Student Centre if the work is a registered compulsory component of the course.
  • your master's degree by research or doctorate degree has started
  • your course is not 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 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 until you secure alternative enrolment and commence the course

Volunteer work

You may take part in volunteer work outside of the 40 hours per fortnight work limitation if it fits within the description of volunteer work.

Volunteer work is work that:

  • is unpaid (you can be provided with meals, accommodation or out-of-pocket living expenses)
  • would not otherwise be done by an Australian for pay
  • is short term
  • is incidental to your visit to Australia
  • is done for a not-for-profit organisation
  • benefits the community

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

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

Work Rights in Australia

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 person’s 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 if:

  • 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 its merits.

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

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.

You can find full time and part time job opportunities both on and off campus on the Jobs and Work Experience page. Popular job listing pages in Australian include MyCareer and Seek. These are an independent service, not provided by The University.

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