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Student visas

The Australian Government attaches strict conditions to student visas. You need to be aware of these conditions, because if you don’t comply with them your student visa may be cancelled.

Variations to your enrolment, failure to make satisfactory academic progress, or changes to your length of stay could all affect your visa.

Find more information about visa conditions on the University’s website.

A full list of the conditions attached to student and other visas can be found on the Department of Home Affairs website.

Remember – you need to update your Australian residential address within seven days of arrival in Australia, or within seven days of changing your address.

Working while on a student visa

Many international students get a part-time or casual job to help pay living expenses while they study. It’s important that you know your visa conditions relating to employment.

Coursework students

Coursework students are limited to working up to 48 hours per fortnight when they are in session. A fortnight is calculated as a 14-day period starting on a Monday. ‘In session’ means from the first day of semester until the last day of semester, or any other time during which you are undertaking study which will count towards your degree (e.g., summer school). You can work unlimited hours when you are out of session.

Contact our Legal Service if you have questions or need advice about this.

Research students

The 48 hours per fortnight limitation on work hours does not apply to research students. If you are an HDR student (e.g. PhD or MPhil) you can work unlimited hours at any time but you must be able to maintain full-time enrolment and complete your course within the time limit, which will limit the number of hours you can engage in paid work.

Volunteer work

Even if you’re undertaking unpaid work, this may still be classified as work. It’s only considered voluntary work if the work involved would not otherwise be undertaken by an Australian resident and the work is genuinely voluntary for a non-profit organisation. Additionally, you can’t receive any payment, whether in cash or in goods or services, in return for the activity.

Work components of your course

If you’re required to undertake a working component for your course, this is usually allowable. However, it must be categorised as a necessary component of your course. If it is listed as a work component on CRICOS under your specific degree, then it is definitely allowable. If you need to clarify whether your working component is a requirement of your course, contact our Legal Service for help.

How do I extend my student visa?

You can’t extend a student visa. If your study requirements have changed, you’ll need to apply for a new student visa. Contact our Legal Service if you need advice or help with this.

Bringing your partner to Australia

If you declared your relationship on your original student visa, or the relationship began after your visa was granted, your partner may be able to come to Australia as a subsequent entrant. If you need advice on this contact our Legal Service for help.

Wanting to stay in Australia after your studies have finished?

The 485 temporary graduate visa is specifically designed to allow international students who meet the Australian study requirement to stay and work in Australia.

Related article:

Further assistance

If you need advice or assistance with any area of migration law contact our Legal Service for help.

For more information about the law relating to your workplace, read Rights and responsibilities at work. For assistance with any area of employment law contact our Legal Service.


This information is current as at December 2023 and is intended as a guide to the law as it applies to people who live in or are affected by the law as it applies in NSW. It does not constitute legal advice.

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Written by SUPRA Legal Service December 2023.

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