Working in Australia

Permission to work while studying in Australia

Working can sometimes interfere with your studies while you are on a student visa. It is very important to make sure that you manage your time efficiently to meet with both your academic and finance needs. The working conditions attached to your student visa include:

  1. Automatic permission to work with your student visa.
  2. You cannot start work until you have commenced your course of study.
  3. You can work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight while your course is in session, and unlimited hours during periods of vacation.
  4. A fortnight is defined as a fourteen-day period starting on a Monday. The course is in session during regular session or trimester (including study week and examination periods).
  5. Session 3 is treated as a compulsory study period if you enrol in units to meet the university's full time enrolment requirement.
  6. Higher Degree by Research (HDR) student visa holders have unlimited work hours once study has commenced, allowing you to engage in employment related research.
  7. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) considers your course to be "in session".
    • For the duration of the advertised sessions/trimesters (including periods when exams are being held).
    • If you have completed your studies and your confirmation of enrolment is still in effect.
    • If you are undertaking another course, during a break from your main course and the point will be credited to your main course.
  8. Any dependent of the student visa holder can work unlimited hours if the student is studying a Master by course work, Master by research or doctoral, or government sponsored students.

Visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for a full list of mandatory and discretionary student visa conditions.

 

Finding Work

You may find it difficult to find work in Australia as you will be joining the general Australian population in your search; therefore you should not rely on income from employment when budgeting to pay for living expenses. There is no guarantee that employment companies will find work for you.

There are many different ways to find a job in Australia, including newspapers, and online job search sites:

Earning an income

Taxes

If you earn money in Australia, you are required to pay tax, depending on how much you earn. The Australian federal government therefore requires everyone with a bank account or working in Australia to have a Tax File Number (TFN). Banks must be provided with your TFN to ensure the correct tax is charged on any interest earned on an account. Taxes are managed through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

How to get a Tax File Number (TFN)

A Tax File Number is a nine digit number issued by the ATO. It is your unique reference number to the Australian tax system. When you start work, your employer will ask you to complete a tax file number declaration form. If you do not provide a TFN your employment will be taxed at the highest personal income tax rate, which will mean less money in your wages each week.

Contact the Australian Taxation Office to apply for your TFN.

Your TFN is one of your most important forms of identification in Australia. It's yours for life and keeping it secure is a good defence against identity theft. Using another person's TFN, misusing yours or allowing it to be used by someone else is a crime which can result in heavy fines or even jail. These penalties also apply to people who 'buy' or 'sell' TFNs. It is not compulsory to have a TFN; however, without one:

  • your employer must take 46.5 per cent of your wages in tax
  • financial institutions are required to tax interest you earn at 46.5 percent
  • you cannot get an Australian business number (ABN)
  • the Tax Office cannot process your tax return
  • it is more difficult for the Tax Office to look up your records and discuss them with you
  • you may be unable to get government services or benefits.

Taxation returns

If you pay too much tax you are entitled to a refund. To get a refund you will need to lodge a tax return. Tax returns are lodged at the end of the Australian tax year, which is from 1 July to 30 June. There are three ways you can lodge a tax return:

  1. Online application
  2. mailing a paper tax return, or
  3. paying a Registered Tax Agent to complete and lodge the return for you.

Superannuation

If your monthly wage is more than AU$450, your employer must contribute an additional sum equal to 9% of your wage into a superannuation (pension) account for you. You will need to advise your employer of your superannuation fund. In most cases, you can access your contributions when you leave Australia permanently, although the contributions will be taxed. 

Visit the Australian Tax Office site to find out if are eligible to claim your superannuation contributions.