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Working on a student visa in Australia

What kind of work can you do in Australia as an international student? Our guide explains all the rules 

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    Grace McCabe

    Content Writer, THE Student
    February 28 2023
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    Studying abroad can be expensive and many students choose to work while studying. It’s a good way to make some extra money and fund your study abroad experience. But working rules for student visas can be strict and international students need to be aware of what is and is not allowed.

    What type of work can I do on a student visa in Australia? 

    It is important to know that although your student visa starts to cover you 90 days before your university programme begins, you are not allowed to work during this time. 

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    When it comes to the type of work you can do, you have lots of options, as long as you still meet the conditions of your visa. Many international students will take on part-time roles for the hours they are allowed to work on their visa. 

    Some jobs that students find work well around their studies are: 

    • Retail positions in supermarkets, boutiques or department stores 
    • Waiting in cafes and restaurants 
    • Bartending 
    • Collection or delivery driver (if you have a valid Australian driving licence
    • Farming or fruit-picking 
    • Childcare, hospice care or cleaning 
    • Admin roles (data entry, secretarial work etc) 
    • Tutoring 

    Usually with a student visa, you are allowed to work 40 hours every fortnight, which has increased from the previous 20 hours. However, the Australian government has removed restrictions to the number of hours an international student can work until at least mid 2023. This means that students can work unlimited hours per week in any industry, without compromising their visa. 

    To adhere to their visa requirements, students must remain enrolled on their university course and ensure “satisfactory course attendance” and “satisfactory course progress” while working. 

    During holidays, when university classes are not running, international students are able to work an unlimited number of hours. However, it is important to remember that you might still have assignments and revision to do over the holidays, so only accept additional working hours if you can.

    Australia also allows international students to start businesses on a student visa. You can launch any type of business – it may even fit around your studies better than being employed elsewhere. 

    What type of work is not allowed with a student visa in Australia? 

    There are very few limits on the type of work that students are allowed to do on a student visa. However, full-time work is not allowed because you will exceed the allotted hours. When choosing your part-time work, ensure that you are very clear about the time you can give to the job.

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    What working rights will I have in Australia on a student visa? 

    Any visitor to Australia will receive the same working rights as residents. This means you are guaranteed the same minimum wage, which is currently AUS$20.33 per hour. If you are working the full 40 hours each fortnight, you could earn a total of AUS$1,626.40 each month.

    How do I prove my right to work in Australia as an international student? 

    Employers in Australia can contact the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system to check your visa status. However, they may ask you directly to provide: 

    • Your VEVO details 
    • Visa start date 
    • Visa expiry date 

    Can I volunteer on a student visa in Australia? 

    In Australia, volunteer work does not count towards your allotted working hours, and you can also take part in this kind of work as soon as you arrive in the country, rather than waiting the 90 days before your programme begins.

    Volunteering in Australia is categorised as any activity you carry out for an organisation (private or non-profit) that is unpaid. Volunteer work can provide international students with work experience during your studies without worrying about the stricter rules of paid work.

    Can I work in Australia after I complete my studies under a student visa? 

    Student visas in Australia are awarded with the assumption that international students will leave after they complete their course. However, Australia does welcome international workers and therefore any graduate with a degree from an Australian university is able to apply for the 485 Skilled Graduate Temporary Visa. This visa is very common among international students because it allows them to stay within the country for 18 months, provided you have completed at least two years at an Australian university.  

    The Australian government will be extending the Temporary Graduate Work visa (subclass 485) for more than 400 bachelor’s and master’s programmes and all PhD programmes from July 2023. 

    This means undergraduates on any of these 400 programmes will now be able to stay and work in Australia for four years, rather than two years. Master’s students studying within the selected disciplines will be able to stay for five years, rather than three. PhD students in all disciplines can stay for six years. 

    Other visa options include: 

    Will I pay tax and national insurance when working in Australia as an international student? 

    The Australian Tax Office sees all international students as temporary residents. This means any foreign income you earn does not need to be declared. However, you must declare any income you earn in Australia by completing a tax return.

    You need to file a tax return if you earn AUS$18,200 or higher in one year. This needs to be done between 30 June and 31 October.

    If your enrolment lasts less than six months, you will be considered a non-Australian resident and will be required to declare all income earned while in the country. However, you will not be eligible for the tax threshold and will be taxed at a higher rate than temporary or permanent residents.

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