Working on a student visa

Many students want to work while studying in Australia. This is understandable as many students require an income to help pay for their living expenses and further tuition fees. It is very important for you to you remember that the primary reason for student visa holders to be in Australia is to study! While this may seem obvious, some students cause great difficulties for themselves, including losing their student visa, by giving priority to their job rather than their studies. When work takes preference over your study commitments, it can cause two main difficulties that are directly related to your student visa conditions;

  1. your attendance falls below the required 80% attendance rate because work is taking priority over study;
  1. you fail to maintain satisfactory course progress because you are giving priority to work rather than studying outside your course hours.

NSW International English expects all its students to commit to their English language studies by maintaining both satisfactory attendance and satisfactory course progress.

Permission to Work

From 26 April 2008, people granted student visas will automatically receive permission to work with their visa grant. Most student visa holders will no longer need to apply separately in Australia for permission to work.  Please note that you will NOT be able to work in Australian until the first official day of classes when the Elite English Institute will confirm your study commencement.  NSW International  English  will do this automatically on the first official day of classes.

Working While Studying

  1. You are not permitted to start work until you have commenced your course of study
  2. You can work a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight during the term and unlimited hours when your course is not in session. For example, NSW International English takes a one-week break at Christmas time. During this time, you may work full time.
  3. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) considers your course to be ‘in session’:

o    for the duration of the advertised semesters (including periods when exams are being held) o    if you have completed your studies and your Confirmation of Enrolment is still in effect o    if you are undertaking another course, during a break from your main course and the points will be credited to your main course. (Source: Department of Immigration and Border Protection)

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:

  • Newspapers
  • Through personal or family contacts
  • Online Job Advertisement Online – try these online companies: (Source: On-line search)

Earning an Income


Taxes are managed through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The tax you pay depends on how much you earn.

Getting a Tax File Number

You must obtain a Tax File Number to be able to work in Australia.  A tax file number (TFN) is your unique reference number to our 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. Follow this link to the ATO to apply for a Tax File Number: Apply for a Tax File Number

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.  You can lodge online using e-tax (free), by mailing a paper tax return, or by paying a registered tax agent to complete and lodge the return for you.  If you lodge by e-tax your refund will normally be issued within 14 days. At the end of the tax year (30th June) your employer must give you a document called a Payment Summary (Group Certificate). This document is a of your Gross Salary/Wages, Allowances, Lump Sum payments Union Fees/tax deductions, and Taxation for the previous financial year. You will need the information on this certificate to complete your annual tax return.

  • Lodge online using e-tax at
  • For a registered tax agent visit
  • Tax returns are lodged at the end of the Australian tax year – (1 July to 30 October).


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.  In most cases, you can access your contributions when you leave Australia permanently, although the contributions will be taxed. To check your eligibility to claim your superannuation and to apply for your payment, visit: You will need to provide the details of your superannuation fund. (Source: Australian Taxation Office)