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If you are an overseas student studying in Australia and wondering what are your working rights, you have to the right place. Here, we have provided information for international students about work rights under student visas, fair work, and necessary documents.
Working while studying
You and your dependent family member will automatically have the working right in Australia if you were granted a student visa on or after 26 April 2008. However, you cannot start working until you have commenced your course. Under the student visa, you can work up to 40 hours per fortnight, when in the session. This time can be extended to unlimited when your course is not in session.
That being said, any voluntary or unpaid work is not included in the limitation of 40 hours per fortnight.
Hours a student allowed to work – Term time
The following table has a breakdown of working hours permitted under the student visa, for different courses.
|Courses||Time/ hour during the term|
|Graduate||20 hours/ week; or 40 hours/ fortnight|
|Post Graduate||40 hours/ fortnight|
|Vocational||20 hours/ week|
There are certain departments where students can work beyond 40 hours/ fortnight, during the ongoing pandemic period:
- Supermarket, located in COVID-19 impacted area, etc.
Hours a student allowed to work – Term breaks
When you are on a scheduled break, or your term is out of session, there is no work restriction. In other words, as per the work rights on student visas, international students can work unrestricted hours during their break. This rule is applicable for the students of graduate, post-graduate and vocational courses.
Post study work opportunities
International students, if they want, can opt to work after completing their studies. However, to do so, they would need to apply for the Temporary Graduate Visa Subclass 485 or Skilled Recognised Graduate Visa- Subclass 476.
These post-study visas allow international students, holding or held visa subclass 500, to stay back and work in Australia on a temporary basis. Each of the above visa categories has a different hour of work. The following table shows a comparison:
|Visa pathways||Work permission|
|Graduate workstream||Work full-time for unrestricted hours for up to 18 months|
|Post-study work-stream||Work between 2- 4 years in Australia, depending on the qualification- Bachelor’s degree or taught master’s degree – 2 years Research-based master’s degree – 3 years Ph.D. – 4 years|
|Skilled Recognised Graduate Visa- Subclass 476 (for engineering graduate of a recognized institution)||Work temporarily up to 18 months|
Student assistance under fair work
By now you have learned about the visa categories needed to work while studying and after completing your studies. However, before starting to search for any work, you should find out about your work rights.
You can visit the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website to learn more about work rights in Australia. You can also contact Australian Visa Lawyer to get details and assistance under fair work. The Australian government has an Overseas Workers’ Team, a free interpreter service, for people belonging to non-English speaking backgrounds.
Required documents to work in Australia under student visa
If you are an international student and wish to work in Australia, you would need the following documents:
- An ABN or an Australian Business Number: If involved in contract work, an ABN number identifies it to the government and the community. You must be carrying on a business in Australia, in order to apply for an ABN number. An ABN number is essential only if you hit the $75k mark.
- A TFN or Tax File Number: It is a reference number in the tax system. You must apply for a TFN to file for a tax return. In the absence of a TFN, you would:
- Have to pay more tax
- Not be able to apply for any government benefits
- Not be able to apply for an Australian Business Number