Work conditions for student visa holders

If you are a student visa holder, you and your dependent 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 restriction.

Voluntary, unpaid work, is not included in the hours per fortnight restriction if it:

  • is of benefit to the community
  • is for a non-profit organisation
  • is genuinely voluntary (that is, you are not paid either in cash or other—board and lodging is acceptable).

If the voluntary work could have been undertaken by an Australian resident who would have received a wage, then this is included in the 40 hours.

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 fortnight comprising weeks one and two above (40 hours worked in that 14 day period) or in the fortnight comprising weeks three and four 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 two and three above (50 hours worked in that 14 day period). Students found to have breached their work conditions might be subject to cancellation of their visa.

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:

  • during scheduled course breaks
  • if your course has been deferred or suspended in line with Standard 13 of the ESOS Act
  • if you have completed your course as scheduled (as per the dates listed on your CoE) and still hold a valid student visa
  • if your enrollment has been cancelled due to the default of your education provider until you secure alternative enrolment and commence the course. 

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, 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.