You are automatically given permission to work on a Student Visa (Subclass 570 to 576) if it was granted on or after 26 April 2008. However, there are a number of conditions to be aware of which we will explore in this article.

When Can I Start Working?

You are permitted to work once you have commenced your course of study in Australia.

How Many Hours Can I Work?

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.

When is my Course in Session?

Your study course is considered to be in session:

  • For the duration of your semester including exam periods;
  • Once your studies have been completed, and your enrolment is still valid; or
  • When you are undertaking a new course during a break from your main course where points from that course will be credited to your main course.

What is Not Considered Work?

Work that is a registered part of study or voluntary will not be included within the limit of 40 hours per fortnight. Neither will voluntary, unpaid work for the benefit of the community within a not-for-profit organisation.

When Can I Work an Unlimited Number of Hours?

You can work an unlimited number of hours if you are a Postgraduate Research Sector (Subclass 576) Student Visa holder and have commenced your Masters by research or Doctoral degree in Australia.

Do My Dependent Family Members Have Permission to Work?

Like you, your dependent family members must not start work until you have commenced your course of study in Australia. They are also permitted to work up to 40 hours per fortnight.

Your dependent family members can work an unlimited number of hours if you have commenced a course towards a Masters or Doctoral degree and hold a:

  • Higher Education Sector (Subclass 573) visa;
  • Postgraduate Research Sector (Subclass 574) visa; or
  • Foreign Affairs or Defence Sector (Subclass 576) visa.

Do I Need a Tax File Number?

Yes, you must obtain a Tax File Number (TFN) from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to be able to work in Australia.

Workplace Rights as an Australian Employee

Your employer is obligated to issue you with the same pay, conditions and workplace entitlements as an Australian employee by the Fair Work Act 2009 or relevant state legislation. These cannot be contracted of in your Employment Agreement.

Will I be Exploited as an Employee and Student Visa holder?

Not necessarily but there are several areas of concern for Student Visa holders which include:

  • Underpayment for hours worked;
  • Lack of entitlements;
  • Undocumented labour;
  • Payment less than the national minimum wage or not being paid penalty rates;
  • Unfair dismissal;
  • Unpaid training;
  • Lack of Superannuation payments;
  • Discrimination;
  • Threats of deportation;
  • Visa cancellation;
  • Threats and intimidation; and
  • Payment of sponsorship to move onto a 457 work visa.

What if My Student Visa was Granted before 26 April 2008?

You are not automatically given permission to work on a Student Visa if it was granted before 26 April 2008. If you 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. You can choose to apply online, by post or in person but you will need your education provider to confirm you have started your course of study with Department of Immigration and Border Protection.


Do you have any other questions about working on a Student Visa? Get in touch by sending us a message or calling 1300 544 755.

Rachel Amiri

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