Work conditions for Student visa holders

If you were granted a Student visa on or after 26 April 2008, you and your dependent family members will already have permission to work included with your visa.

If you were granted a Student visa before 26 April 2008 and have not yet applied for permission to work, you and your dependent family members may only apply for Permission to Work after you have started your course in Australia.
See: How to Apply for Permission to Work

Students granted permission to work

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.

  • Work that is a formal registered part of your course is not included in the limit of 40 hours per fortnight.
  • 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).
  • If you are a subclass 574 (Postgraduate research sector) student visa holder and you have commenced your masters by research or doctoral degree in Australia, there is no limit on the number of hours you may work.
  • You can work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight during any preliminary courses you undertake on a subclass 574 (Postgraduate research sector) student visa.

An example of how 40 hours a fortnight is calculated: After their course has commenced, a student visa holder works the following numbers of hours over a four week period:

  • 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). Students found to have breached their work conditions may be subject to cancellation of their visa.

Dependent family members granted permission to work

Dependent family members:

  • must not start work until the primary visa holder has commenced the course in Australia
  • can work up to 40 hours per fortnight at all times unless the primary visa holder has commenced a course towards a masters or doctoral degree and holds a subclass 573 (Higher education sector), 574 (Postgraduate research sector) or 576 (Foreign Affairs or Defence Sector) student visa. In this case there is no limit on the number of hours a dependent family member may work.

What is a fortnight?

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

When is your course in session?

We consider 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.

Where can I find more information about my student visa work conditions?

You can view your visa online using Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO). VEVO is a free internet service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It allows you, and your employer or education provider, to view your visa details online.
See: Visa Entitlement Verification Online

Tax file number

You must obtain a Tax File Number to be able to work in Australia. This is available from the Australian Tax Office.
See: How to apply for a tax file number - Individuals

Fair Work Ombudsman

If you have any concerns about your pay and conditions, or other issues at work, you can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman (all state and territories except Western Australia).
See: Fair Work Ombudsman
Telephone: Wageline on 1300 655 266 (Western Australia only).