International students – student visas and workplace rights

Student visa holders have the same workplace rights as all other workers in Australia, including minimum pay and conditions.  

If you are under 25, for free and confidential legal advice about this topic, please contact us here. 

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Working hours

Working hours for student visa holders have recently changed to support workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Students can now work more than 40 hours a fortnight, no matter what industry they work in.  

It is important that you continue to balance your study and work commitments or you may be in breach of your visa conditions. Students who work more than 40 hours a fortnight need to: 

  • Maintain their course enrolment
  • Ensure satisfactory course attendance, and
  • Ensure satisfactory course progress.

Update: the temporary relaxation of work hour restrictions will end on 30 June 2023.  Until 30 June 2023, you are able to work more than 40 hours a fortnight. For more information, you can read about this update at this external site here.  

What are my rights as an international student? 

All workers in Australia, including international students, have the same workplace rights including minimum pay and conditions. 

There are minimum pay rates that employees must be paid, based on the work they do. You can find out more about pay here. 

Employees also have other minimum conditions at work. These are set out in documents called an Award, an agreement, or a Standard.  This external site has more information about Award or agreements. You can find out more about working conditions here. 

If you think you are not receiving minimum rights and conditions, we strongly recommend that you contact us here for free and confidential help. 

For more information about your rights and obligations as a worker, you can visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website here. There is also information specific to international students, including a factsheet, here on their website. 

Will my visa be cancelled if I report what’s happening at work? 

If you are worried that making a report about work will impact your visa, we strongly recommend that you contact us for free and confidential legal advice. We can help you work out whether you are being exploited at work and what you can do. You may choose to do nothing – whatever you choose it will be 100% your decision. 

Usually, your student visa won’t be cancelled if you have breached your work-related visa conditions because of workplace exploitation. This is because of a document called the Assurance Protocol. It ensures that visa holders can get help without fear of their visa being cancelled, even if they have breached their work-related visa conditions. 

Does the Assurance Protocol apply to me? 

The Assurance Protocol applies if: 

  • You have breached your work-related visa conditions because of workplace exploitation
  • You have sought advice or support from the Fair Work Ombudsman and are helping them with their inquiries
  • There is no other reason to cancel your visa (for example, for national security, character, health, or fraud reasons), and
  • You have committed to following your visa conditions in the future.

For more information about the assistance protocol, you can visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website here or contact us here.    

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