Work conditions for student visa holders

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If you are a student visa holder, you and your dependant family members have permission to work included with your visa. You and your family members must not breach the work conditions that apply to your student visa.

Work conditions for student visa holders

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 out of session.

Work that is formally registered as part of your course is not included in the 40 hours per fortnight limitation.

Student visa holders and their dependants who are subject to visa condition 8104 or 8105, may take part in volunteer work outside of the 40 hours per fortnight work limitation if:

  • their main purpose is to study in Australia and voluntary work remains secondary to this, and
  • the work involved would not otherwise be undertaken by an Australian resident, and
  • the work is genuinely voluntary for a non-profit organisation and no remuneration, in cash or kind, is received in return for the activity.

Unpaid work that does not fit within the above description of volunteer work, is counted towards the 40 hours per fortnight limitation.

If you are a postgraduate research student:

  • you can work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight during any preliminary courses you undertake
  • if you have commenced your masters by research or doctoral degree in Australia, there is no limit on the number of hours you may work.

Family members granted permission to work

Family members:

  • must not start work until the primary visa holder has commenced their 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 Student visa (subclass 500). In this case there is no limit on the number of hours a family member might work.


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

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 one - 15 hours work
  • week two - 25 hours work
  • week three - 25 hours work
  • week four - 10 hours work.

In the above example, the total hours worked in week two and week three is more than 40 hours. This means the student is non-compliant with the work limitation and may be subject to visa cancellation.

Defining course in session and out of session

We consider your course to be in session:

  • for the duration of the advertised semesters, including exam periods
  • 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.

We consider your course to be out of session:

Additional information about 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 (with your permission), to view your visa details 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.

Your workplace rights

Workers in Australia – including visa holders with permission to work – have rights under Australian workplace law.

The Fair Work Ombudsman Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT) provides information on pay rates, shift calculations, leave arrangements and notice and redundancy entitlements.

More information is available about Workplace rights - for all visa holders working in Australia.