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Work Permission and Other Practicalities

In order to work in Australia while you are a student you must have a student visa with work permission. As of April 26, 2008 students will receive permission to work with their visa grant. This means that you no longer have to apply separately in Australia to obtain work permission unless you obtained your visa before April 26, 2008. Receiving the visa and work permission together saves you both time and money.

The fee for obtaining both a student visa and work permission in Australia is A$535, and allows you to begin working as soon as your classes begin. Students studying in Australia under a student visa are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week, with unlimited hours over holidays. However, if you begin work before your classes start, or if you exceed the 20-hour-a-week limit, your student visa may be revoked.

To apply for a student visa, you can apply online or in person or by post. The process for each is slightly different. To apply online, you must first ask your education provider electronically to tell them that you have begun your course. Following this, you should allow at least an hour to allow for this information to be transferred into the department’s system. You should then check the charges for lodging an application. Then, you should complete the online application and follow the prompts it will provide you with.

To apply in person or by post, you must have either a letter from your education provider confirming that you have begun your course or the front of Form 157P Application for a student visa with permission to work signed and stamped by your education provider. Check the charges for lodging an application; you can pay by EFTPOS, credit card, money order, or bank check. You must then complete Form 157P, then mail or deliver your application to your nearest departmental office.

To learn more about the process of getting an Australian student work visa, visit the section of the Australian Government website on applying to work while an international student.

After You Have Your Visa

After you have a visa, you or an employer can view your visa information online using Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO). This allows you or someone that may need the information to access your immigration status.

Tax File Number

In order to work or open a bank account in Australia you must obtain a TFN (Tax File Number). Your TFN is confidential, like a social security number in the US , so keep your number secure. You are only issued one in your lifetime and it is used to file tax reports and important government documents.

If you work in Australia , you are required to file a tax return, which is tracked to your TFN. As an international student, you will likely receive a refund when you file your tax return. For more information on your potential tax refund visit

You can apply online for a TFN only if you are currently in Australia and you have:

  • A valid permanent migrant visa, or
  • A valid visa with work rights, or
  • A valid overseas student visa, or
  • A valid visa allowing you to stay in Australia indefinitely.

Students who need to apply for a TFN should visit the Australian Tax Office. To apply, you'll need your name, address, date of birth, Passport, date of arrival and proof of enrollment in school.

You can also apply for your TFN online if you are a visa holder with work rights. When you apply online, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC’s) systems will verify your identity. Make sure that you keep a record of your receipt number.

Click here for more information on getting a tax file number.

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