Working in Australia

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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).

For further  information on working in Australia, visit DIBP’s website at

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.
  • Voluntary, unpaid work is not included in the  20-hour limit if it:
    • Is of benefit to the community
    • Is for a non-profit organisation
    • 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)
  • You can work unlimited hours during holiday periods when your course is not in session.

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.

Tax returns

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 enrolment, 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


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.

Finding work

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers and on websites like, and It’s also a good idea to contact  your institution’s careers office or student centre. They might have information on local businesses that are known to hire international students. Local businesses might also place advertisements on school noticeboards, and in their stores. Keep a look out 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.