Freelancing, Fortnights, and Student Work in Australia

//Freelancing, Fortnights, and Student Work in Australia

Upon settling in to your new home in Australia, many students look for the opportunity to be not only educated, but gainfully employed. While there is always a job available for someone willing to do the work, your student visa has conditions that you need to adhere to. The last thing you want is to be sent home before your classes even starts.

When Can I Start?

With that in mind, your Student Visa’s work conditions do not start until your courses do. If you are in Australia for a month before school, remember, you cannot work during that time if this is your first year of school of course work in Australia.

If you are getting a Master’s, the school may have already arranged for you to be teaching, assisting, or helping out somehow around campus. Check with your school to find out what you need to do to hold up your end of the agreement.

How Long Can I Work

During school sessions, your student visa entitles you to 40 hours per fortnight. This would be viewed as part time by the Australian Tax Office. When school is out of session, your work time has no limits.

If you are undertaking postgraduate research, you too have 40 hours maximum per fortnight limit.

If you have commenced your masters by research or are completing doctoral work, there is no limit to the hours you can work.

What Is “In Session” As Opposed To “Out Of Session”

The Australian Department of Home Affairs determined that a course is “in session” it is:

  • for the duration of the advertised semesters, including exam periods
  • when you are undertaking another course, during a break from your main course and points from that course will be credited to your main course.

A course will be out of session if it is:

  • during scheduled course breaks
  • if your course has been deferred or suspended in line with Standard 9 of the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students (
  • if you have completed your course as scheduled (as per the dates listed on your CoE) and still hold a valid student visa
  • if your enrolment has been cancelled due to the default of your education provider ( until you secure alternative enrolment and commence the course. 

What If My Spouse Is Studying And I Am On Their Visa

If you are coming down because your spouse is studying, you too must wait until their studies have commenced before you can work. In the meantime, you should apply for your Tax File Number ( with the Australian government. This number is unique to you and you alone and required by all Australians who are looking to be gainfully employed.

If the primary visa holder has commenced a course towards a masters or doctoral degree and holds a Student visa (subclass 500), then there is no limit on the number of hours a family member might work.


Many students opt to go and freelance their skills as opposed to holding down a desk job. To do this you will be required to have an ABN number, which you must apply for ( As you are an individual, you will need to apply as a “Sole Trader”. This number is also unique but can only be applied for AFTER you apply for the Tax File Number.

Many websites exist for employers who are looking for freelancers or who are in need of unique skills quickly, but the most used is GumTree (, which is a great site not only for work, but also most any other thing you could want.

Additional Information About Student Visa Work Conditions

Everything is online, including your visa. If you have any questions you can view your visa online using Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO). VEVO is a free internet service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It allows you, and your employer or education provider (with your permission), to view your visa details online.

What Are My Rights To Work

Workers in Australia – including visa holders with permission to work – have rights under Australian workplace law. The Fair Work Ombudsman Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT) ( provides information on pay rates, shift calculations, leave arrangements and notice and redundancy entitlements. More information is available about Workplace rights – for all visa holders working in Australia (

What Is Cash In Hand?

“Cash in Hand” is an Australian term for a job that is “off the books”. And while this is tempting, it means that your employer does not have to give you the work entitlements that you get as being part of the Australian workforce. There is nothing wrong with helping out a friend move for some spare cash here and there, you should avoid working “Cash in Hand” as a main source of income, especially in jobs that you would have a higher risk of injury. Without being registered as an employee, you will not be entitled to any compensation if you are injured on the job site.


Tax season in Australia ends on the last day of June. The last day to file your income for the tax year is the following October. You have the option to file your taxes online (, which is straight forward, but if you want to play it safe there are many different tax agencies that will work with you to make sure your taxes are taken care of. REMEMBER! Even if you have returned to your home country you still need to file taxes for that last year you were in Australia. Penalties may apply if you try to re-enter at a later date!

At the end of the day, how much work you take on is up to you, but remember, your main reason for being in Australia is to study, don’t jeopardise that! If you have any other questions, please contact any of our Skoolmates agents who will be happy to get you the answers you need.

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