If you have ever ordered a ridesharing service such as UberX and its on-demand food delivery service Uber Eats, 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.

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Gig-economy jobs are their main choice, the main reason is flexibility. They can determine their own working hours without interfering with their study hours. Another reason is the effortless requirements, as an example, to be approved as an Uber Eats delivery driver they only need proof of ID, pass a background check, ABN and a bicycle. Read more about UberEats requirements here.

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 drivers 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 holder, 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 important to understand the condition stated on your visa. Your visa may limit the type of work and how many hours you can work.

Student visa working hours limitation in Australia

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 40 hours per fortnight when the course is in session, but you can work unlimited hours when your course isn’t in season. According to the Unimelb website, fortnight is a 14-day period (Monday to Sunday) where you are not allowed to work more than 40 hours during any fortnight. Some people also usually call it as 20 hours per week restriction.

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But how are 40 hours per fortnight is determined? Below is an example::

  • 1st week (20 hours), 2nd week (20 hours), 3rd week (20 hours), 4th week (20 hours). Your working hours comply with student visa condition.
  • 1st week (10 hours), 2nd week (30 hours), 3rd week (20 hours), 4th week (20 hours). You would be in breach of the student visa condition since you’ve worked more than 40 hours (2nd and 3rd week).

Working with Uber using a student visa

As an international student, you have the same opportunity to work with Uber, both as a rideshare driver for UberX and as a delivery driver for UberEats. It’s popular jobs for overseas students in the country because it has many advantages when compared to other side jobs.

Of course, this does not only apply to Uber service, because there are several similar services that can be found in Australia such as DoorDash, Menulog and Deliveroo for on-demand delivery service.

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, in this case, 40 hours fortnight or 20 hours weekly limit for a student visa holder.

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.

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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 20 hour time 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 40 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

That’s a bad idea and we recommend you not to try working more than 40 per fortnight or 20 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 condition 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 40 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 for 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 has 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 largest service-based export and supports 240,000 jobs, business opportunities and economic growth.