Working in Australia

If you are after some extra cash or would like to gain some work experience, you might wish to find a job while studying in Australia. Your work rights depend on your visa type and you should always refer to the Department of Home Affairs (HA) for up to date information specific to your visa.

In general, your student visa allows you to work up to 48 hours per fortnight during the academic year and full-time during official university semester breaks. If you work more hours than this, you will be in breach of visa conditions and your visa may be cancelled.

If you are a full-time research degree student it is recommended you work only up to 8 hours per week, or for a total of the equivalent of 8 hours per week over a twelve month period or 320 hours per year.

Find more information about your right to work in the FAQs below. For information on the new permission to work arrangements for student visa holders, please refer to the HA website.

Tax file number

Before you work in Australia you will need to be issued with a Tax File Number (TFN) from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Find more information in the FAQs below, or from the ATO.

Find a job

Explore UniSA Careers, where you will find great services and resources to help you find work. And before you start work in Australia it’s good to understand your rights. For more information about salary and working conditions in Australia refer to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Frequently Asked Questions

You may work in a paid or voluntary capacity for up to 48 hours per fortnight during teaching times (when your course is in session) and unlimited hours during scheduled university breaks. If you work more hours than this, you will be in breach of visa conditions and your visa may be cancelled. This rule applies to paid and voluntary work.

If you are a Higher Degree Research (HDR) student on a 400 visa, you will be able to work an unlimited amount of hours once your program of study or course has commenced. However, the University's Research Degrees Committee recommends that full-time research degree students in receipt of a living stipend, undertake paid employment for no more than 8 hours per week or for a total of the equivalent of 8 hours per week over a twelve month period or 320 hours per year. The hours of employment include marking and preparation associated with part-time teaching duties.  Please refer to Procedure AB-59 P1: Research Degrees and Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships section C.8.h.

If you are planning to work while studying please note the following:

  • Research degree students will require the approval of the University through their Principal supervisor and, where hours exceed the recommended 8 hours, take into consideration satisfactory progress of the research degree student.
  • Employment cannot be grounds for an extension to scholarship or application to go overtime.
  • The University may not require HDR students to undertake employment at the institution.

If you were issued with a student visa, you will have permission to work included in your visa which will apply to any family members travelling with you on your student visa.

Dependents (or family members) are not allowed to work until you, as a student, have begun your program and course sessions. Your dependents may not work more than 48 hours per fortnight at all times. If you have started a masters or doctorate program, your dependent (or family member) may work unlimited hours.

No. Your visa information is held electronically by the Department of Home Affairs and you can access it at any time using the Visa Entitlement verification (VEVO) system. Employers, banks and government services can also check details about your visa entitlements on VEVO once they have your consent to do so.

It is important that you advise any potential employer of your visa status so that they can complete a VEVO check and verify your visa entitlements before you commence work.

Information on how to access VEVO

A Tax File Number (TFN) is a unique number issued to you by the Australian Taxation Office to administer tax and other Australian Government systems. It is one of your most important forms of identification in Australia. Your TFN is valuable. Don't share it with friends and do not provide it on the internet when applying for work. Keep it secure.

A TFN is not compulsory. However, if you intend to keep money in a bank account, it would be to your advantage to have a TFN, because you may be required to pay tax on the interest. Similarly, if you intend working in paid employment, you need to have a TFN, because your employer is required to deduct income tax from your wages. If you do not have a TFN, you may:

  • pay more tax than necessary, or
  • not be able to get government benefits you are entitled to receive.

A TFN will help you:

  • lodge a tax return
  • ask the Tax Office about your tax affairs
  • start or change jobs
  • limit the amount of tax you pay on interest of dividends earned if you have savings accounts or
  • investments that earn income.

For further information visit the Australian Taxation Office website or telephone 13 28 61 between 8.00am and 6.00pm, Monday to Friday.

In Australia, you are required to lodge an annual taxation return at the end of each financial year. The financial year runs from 1 July to 30 June. Taxation returns must be lodged by 31 October. Your taxation obligation will be calculated by the Australian Taxation Office. If you have paid less than the appropriate amount, you will receive an invoice for the balance. If you have paid more than the appropriate amount, you will receive a refund.

Your financial institution (bank, credit union, etc.) needs to know your TFN. You may also inform your employer of your TFN.

No. The TFN is a unique number. Once it is issued to you, it will remain with you always. As it is yours for life, you must keep it secure to protect against identity theft.

Yes, however, without a TFN, tax will be deducted from your income at the maximum rate. You can claim this back later once you submit a tax return, but it is more convenient to have a TFN and have the correct amount deducted from the start. It is illegal to work in paid employment without paying income tax. Your employer is legally required to deduct the appropriate amount of tax from your salary and to forward this to the Australian Taxation Office.

You may apply online for a TFN after you arrive in Australia from the Australian Taxation Office website by completing an Online Tax File number (TFN) application.


You will receive your TFN by mail within 28 days. TFNs are not given out by telephone for reasons of confidentiality.

For answers to frequently asked questions about tax including information and help with lodging your income tax return please visit the Australian Taxation Office website.

Need some help?

Contact a Student Adviser (International)

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