It is fully legal to work while you are studying full-time on a student visa, whether on an undergraduate or postgraduate program) and you are on a recognized course that meets all the necessary immigration requirements. The Australian student visa usually allows you to work up to 40 hours every 2 weeks during term time and full time during the vacations. It is also good to know that you have the same rights as any Australian while in the workplace and you must be paid the minimum wage (currently just under $20 an hour in 2020) but of course you may be liable to pay tax too so make sure you have your Tax File Number from the Tax Office and talk to your employer about tax.
Please remember that the program you are on is a full-time degree program and to do well you will be expected to be studying long hours in order to meet the course requirements, cover all the reading and do the assignments. Therefore, think carefully about how much work you can realistically do while studying full time. Also note the student visa will require you to prove that you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition fees and living expenses while you are in Australia so you shouldn’t plan to fund your study through working while on the student visa. Also of course there is no guarantee you will find a suitable job straight away.
Having said that working can be a great way to get a bit of extra money, to get new skills and experience and to meet new people. Working can actually complement your study experience and add to your resume. So, if you are thinking of finding work while you are studying in Australia here are a few things to think about:
- Be prepared – have an up to date resume and think about how any experience you have is relevant to different types of jobs
- Most universities have Careers Centre where you can find out information about available jobs and get help in personal development, through things like resume workshops, maintaining a good ‘LinkedIn’ profile or tips on interview skills. Some even have free photography for getting a professional looking photo if your application or profile needs one.
- Network – your friends, and their other friends, are often a great source of information about work opportunities and they may be able to provide introductions as well.
- It is worth checking with the International Office at the university too as there are sometimes jobs within the university like a student ambassador or giving campus tours to perspective students.
- There are also likely to be listings of jobs on student focused websites, on jobs boards around campus or local newspapers too.
- There are work placement companies that can help find work but this usually comes at a cost so you may want to try other things first
If the experience of working and strengthening your CV is more important than the money you can earn then also look out for internship opportunities while you are studying. Although these are usually unpaid they can give you great experience and are much more likely to be linked to you degree or planned career. Also you may find that if you impress during an internship you may be asked to get in touch when you are looking for a job, or even be offered something for when you graduate.
If you are hoping to stay and find full time work in Australia after you have graduated then you will need to qualify for the Post Study Work Stream (subclass 485 of the Temporary Graduate visa). This visa allows you to live and work in Australia for between 2 – 4 years depending on your qualification and a few other factors. There are a number of factors to consider and you can get the full details here but basically:
- You must have a student visa first
- You must have studied on a CRICOS registered course
- You must have studied at least 2 academic years (92 weeks) of study in Australia
There are some additional allowances for living and working in a designated ‘regional’ area which gives extra time to the visa which means with all the right conditions it can last for up to 4 years.
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