If you have ever booked a ride using a ridesharing platform or ordered a meal using an on-demand delivery platform, you may find that some of them are still young, aged like college students in general. No wonder, because those jobs are popular jobs among students, especially international students in Australia.
Gig-economy jobs are onshore students’ main choice, the main reason is its flexibility. They can determine their own working hours without interfering with their study hours. Another reason is the effortless requirements, as example, to be approved as an food delivery driver for platforms like Uber Eats, DoorDash, or Menulog, they only need proof of ID, pass a background check, an Australian Business Number (ABN) and a vehicle. Even a driver’s licence is not required if they are only making deliveries on a bicycle.
Apart from these two reasons, another reason is that this job can generate good enough money to support their financial needs when they are away from their family. Based on our findings in the driver’s forum on the internet, an international student can earn around A$700 a week with less than 20 hours of online time, especially in major cities around the country.
That amount of weekly income for a delivery driver is very good for student visa holders, especially from Asia. As an illustration, in India, based on indeed.com, the average monthly delivery driver earnings is ₹26,000 or around A$460 per month (A$115 per week).
Visa holders including international students have the same workplace rights as all other workers in the country. However, it’s essential to understand the condition stated on your visa. Your visa may limit the type of work and how many hours you can work.
Driving or delivering with Uber for International Students
As we know, student visa holders in Australia are generally allowed to work while studying, subject to certain conditions and limitations. The working rights for international students are outlined by the Australian Government and may vary depending on the type of student visa and the level of study.
As an overseas college student in Australia, you have the same opportunity to work with Uber, both as a rideshare driver for UberX or as a delivery driver for Uber Eats. You can not only work with Uber but with other similar platforms operating in this country such as Didi, Ola, and Indrive for rideshare or DoorDash and Menulog for delivery service.
Currently, being a rideshare and delivery driver is a common gig job among college students. Many of them make this gig as their first side hustle because it’s easy to start this job, especially for delivery services. They can join as a courier with minimal requirements, they don’t even need a driver’s license if they choose to ride a bicycle.
But for international students who want to earn more, they can sign up to become a rideshare driver. Of course, they have to spend more money to get started, because they have to provide an eligible vehicle, driver license and some additional documents and driver accreditation.
Student visa working hours limitation in Australia
Keep in mind, as a temporary visa holder, it’s important to know the rules and requirements when it comes to working in Australia, especially how many hours you can work. You can read more about work restrictions for student visa holders at the Department of Home Affairs official website.
Your student visa may be stated that you have work rights in the country, but the main purpose of international students coming to this country is to study, the government has given a time limit for student visa holders to work.
The current international student working hours restriction is 48 hours per fortnight when the course is in session, but you can work unlimited hours when your course isn’t in season. This limitation has increased slightly more when compared to pre-covid, which was 40 hours per fortnight or 20 hours per week.
According to the Unimelb website, a fortnight is a 14-day period (Monday to Sunday) where you are not allowed to work more than 48 hours during any fortnight. Some people also usually call it as 20 hours per week restriction (now 24 hours per week).
How are the 48 hours per fortnight determined? Below is an example:
- 1st week (24 hours), 2nd week (24 hours), 3rd week (24 hours), 4th week (24 hours). Your working hours comply with student visa conditions.
- 1st week (14 hours), 2nd week (34 hours), 3rd week (24 hours), 4th week (24 hours). You would be in breach of the student visa condition since you’ve worked more than 48 hours (2nd and 3rd week).
How working hours is calculated
As we explained earlier, working on the side as an on-demand delivery or rideshare platform like Uber has many advantages for students because of its flexibility. A platform like this of course also has drawbacks, especially for temporary visa holders with limited working hours.
One of the main drawbacks is when there is not enough demand for this service. So if they choose the wrong time to go online with the platform they will earn less money that week, because their working hours restriction is mostly used just to wait for the job request.
As we know, Uber and other on-demand service platforms record a driver’s online time including while they are waiting for a job request. And this online time is calculated as 48 hours per fortnight, not just when you are on your way to pick up and deliver orders or passengers. This may seem unfair to you, but it’s the law.
What if I’m doing Uber more than 20 hours per week (now 24 hours)
Many have asked us whether international students can do Uber more than 20 hours in Australia. This could be done a while ago when student visa work restrictions were relaxed throughout the pandemic. But now, the government has been re-introduced and capped at the increased rate of 48 hours per fortnight (or 24 hours per week) as of 1 July 2023.
However, we don’t recommend you work more than 48 per fortnight or 24 hours per week under a student visa. Doing so means you’ve breached the visa condition and the worst consequence is a student visa cancellation.
Breach of visa conditions is taken seriously by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) Compliance section. When you get caught, you may be visited by DHA officers to discuss the breach with them. Following an interview, you might also receive a letter about a visa cancellation notice.
You may have the opportunity to explain why you breached your conditions and why your student visa should not be cancelled. However, facing immigration problems due to a side job it’s not worth the cost and time that you will spend dealing with it.
If you’ve ever seen someone out there who works more than 48 hours per fortnight and they don’t get into any trouble. Our advice is not to copy what they do. It’s just a matter of time until they get caught.
FYI, international students in Australia
Australia is one of the popular destinations for international students, mainly from Asian countries such as China, India, Nepal and Vietnam. Universities in the country are among the best in the world, such as the Australian National University (ANU), the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne and several others.
According to data from the Department of Education, there were 758,154 international students in the country up to December 2019. That number increased by about 9% from 2018 in the same month. Unfortunately, that number decreased by around 9% in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and now there are still around 686,104 students taking lessons.
International education contributed $37.6B to the Australian economy in 2019, which was a $5B boost compared to the previous financial year. The economic contribution of the international education sector had grown by 15%. It was Australia’s largest service-based export and supports 240,000 jobs, business opportunities and economic growth.