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Working hours for international students have changed: What you need to know

Recent updates to working rights for international students may affect how you balance your work and study commitments.

Young female working in a bakery shop chatting with customers
Young female working in a bakery shop chatting with customers

Australia has long been a popular destination for international students due to its excellent education system and vibrant multicultural society. It also offers students the ability to work while studying, with more hours and flexibility than countries like the UK and USA.  

During your studies, you can take the opportunity to find a part-time or casual job, which is a great way to support yourself financially, meet new people and gain valuable work experience.  

However, there have been some recent updates to working rights for international students, which may affect how you balance your work and study commitments. Read on to find out more about these changes and what they mean for you. 

Can international students work in Australia? 

Yes! As an international student studying in Australia, you are able to work part-time while pursuing your education. This doesn’t just give you an opportunity to make some money but is also a fantastic way to gain exposure to the local job market and expand your career options. 

There are plenty of sectors that offer great part-time or casual jobs for students, with flexible hours and multiple roles available. Retail and hospitality jobs are two popular options, and there is a lot of demand for workers in aged care and administration as well.  

However, finding employment in Australia requires some effort and preparation. To help get you started, universities and other education providers often provide career services to support you on your job hunt. Make the most of online job search portals, like SEEK and LinkedIn, and look for networking opportunities to increase your chances of securing a role. 

While international students are permitted to work, it is important to keep up with your studies and maintain your attendance and grades. Certain visa subclasses may have different rules for working as an international student, so make sure you understand your visa conditions before you start your search. 

What are the recent changes to working rights in Australia? 

The Australian Government has recently introduced changes to international student working rights. These updated rules are intended to give you more flexibility and will help you to live comfortably while staying focused on your studies. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, students were restricted to working 40 hours per fortnight. Then, in January 2022, working restrictions were completely removed for international students. This initiative was introduced to address labour shortages in certain industries during the pandemic. 

However, this has now come to an end. Restrictions on working hours are back in place, although there are some important changes to be aware of.  

From 1 July 2023, you are now able to work up to 48 hours per fortnight during the semester. Additionally, those working in the aged care sector can continue working full-time until December 2023. 

As before, you are also allowed to work unlimited hours during scheduled course breaks, such as over the summer or winter holidays. 

Keep in mind that exceeding the allowed working hours can have serious consequences, including visa cancellation, and your employer is not allowed to ask you to breach your visa conditions. Keep an eye on your working hours to make sure you’re not breaking the rules. 

Where can you find information about working in Australia? 

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) and the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) websites are the best places to go to find accurate and up-to-date information about working in Australia. 

The FWO is a valuable resource for workplace rights, and provides information on minimum wage, working conditions, and employee entitlements. It also offers resources tailored specifically for international students to help you understand your rights and obligations as an employee in Australia, ensuring fair treatment and preventing any potential exploitation. 

The DHA provides detailed information on visa requirements and restrictions. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions of your specific visa subclass

While the recent changes have brought about some adjustments to international student working rights, know you are still able to work during your studies in Australia. Make the most of your time here by balancing your work and study commitments, and keep an eye out for updates so you can stay on top of any future changes.