Working in Australia
From 26 April 2008, your student visa allows you to work up to 20 hours a week on a casual basis. If you were granted a visa before this time, you can still receive permission to work by applying to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).
Working and student visa conditions
While you automatically receive permission to work, your visa requires you to meet certain conditions including:
- You cannot commence working in Australia until you have started your course.
- You can only work up to 20 hours a week while your course is in session. This does not include work experience you undertake as part of your course.
- You can work unlimited hours during holiday periods when your course is not in session.
- Voluntary, unpaid work is not included in the 20-hour limit if it:
- Is of benefit to the community
- Is for a non-profit organization
- Is a designated volunteer position (that is; it would not otherwise be undertaken in return for wages by an Australian resident)
- No remuneration, either in cash or kind, is received (board and lodging excepted)
Types of work for international students
International students often find work in retail, hospitality, and administration. The wage you receive will depend on the kind of work you do and your age. You may be paid more for working on Sundays or public holidays. Tutoring younger students in the field you are studying or in your native language is also a good way to earn money. Student tutors can earn about $40 an hour.
As an international student, you may be affected by Australia’s taxation system. You should obtain a Tax File Number (TFN) from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) if you are going to work in Australia. You may also need a TFN to open a bank account. To apply, complete a form available from the ATO website or an Australia Post office. If your visa allows you to work you can use the ATO’s online registration system. You will need to supply your name, current address, and date of birth. You may also need to supply your date of arrival in Australia, current overseas passport (with current entry permit), and proof of enrolments, such as a student card or the Confirmation of Enrolment issued by your institution.
If you work in Australia you will need to lodge an income tax return, either through a registered tax agent or by completing it yourself. If you complete your own income tax return, e-tax is the fastest way to obtain a refund. In most cases, this will be within 14 days. You can download e-tax from the ATO website.
For more information about tax file numbers and tax returns, phone the ATO on 13 2861, or visit the ATO website.
If you work in Australia as an international student and are paid $450 or more in a calendar month, you may be entitled to superannuation. Your employer is usually required by law to pay money into a superannuation or retirement savings account for you. This legal requirement is called the Superannuation Guarantee.
Your employer will probably have an existing arrangement with a superannuation provider, but you can choose a different provider if you want. Visit the ATO website at for more information on superannuation providers and how to change providers.
If you are eligible, you may be entitled to receive your superannuation when you permanently leave Australia. This payment is called the Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP). You can apply online for the DASP at the ATO website.
You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers and on websites like Seek, Career One and Indeed. Local businesses might also place advertisements on school noticeboards, and in their stores. Keep a lookout for these position vacant notices.
It’s also a good idea to let your friends know that you’re looking for a job. They might know of a friend’s business that’s looking for another staff member. At the very least, they’ll be able to let you know if they see a job advertised that you might like.