Yes, you can do business on student visa in Australia. Ideally, under Australian visa requirements, you are allowed to work for up to 40 hours per fortnight (or, 20 hours a week). If you only spend 20 hours a week working on your business then, technically, you are complying with your visa conditions.

However, it can be hard to calculate the number of hours you spend working on your business. You will also need to make sure that you continue to meet your study requirements. Have it in mind that a work week in Australia is considered to be Monday through the following Sunday. Although they are allowed to arrive in Australia up to 90 days before their course begins, students are not allowed to begin working until after their courses have begun.

The 20-hour-per-week limit does not extend to any work the student is expected to undertake as a component of his or her studies or training. Volunteer and unpaid work, however, does count towards the 20 hours. If an international student works more than the Australian restrictions allow, his or her visa may be cancelled.

What About Family Members Accompanying the Student?

In addition, family members (spouses and children) accompanying the international student under their student visa enjoy the same work rights as the student – 20 hours per week. However, unlike the students, family members are not allowed to exceed 20 hours per week, even during holidays.

For those students obtaining a graduate degree, like a master’s degree, their family can work unlimited hours. Like students, family members are not expected to start work until after the student has started his or her course. Presently in Australia, students are now able to receive permission to work along with their visa grant.

Note that this applies both to the student and any family members who may be travelling with the student under his or her visa. This is to save students both time and money especially when applying for visas and work permission. The visa application fee in Australia is currently A$535.

International students who want to study in Australia will first have to gain admission into an Australian educational institute before applying for a student visa. When applying for a visa, students will need to supply a confirmation of enrollment issued by the Australian educational institution which the student intends to attend as part of their application.

In Australia, this confirmation of enrollment serves as proof that the student is indeed staying in Australia for educational purposes. It is also advisable that students apply for a visa as early as possibl due to the time it can take to process a visa application.

Students are required to pursue a consistent study program that has been approved by the Australian government and must also fulfill all the requirements of the study program in which they are enrolled. Students are also expected to maintain satisfactory attendance in their course for each study period as required by their school. They are also expected to maintain Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).

Working during your stay in Australia is a great way for international students to supplement their finances. However, it is extremely important to be aware of the restrictions placed upon you as an international student. If you violate any of these restrictions, your student visa may be revoked and you could be deported out of Australia.

Issues to Consider When Starting a Business in Australia on a Student Visa

Most international students studying in Australia will want to work. For these students, it is very important to be conversant with the rules especially when it comes to work. Here are few issues and thoughts to consider extensively;

  1. Tax Issues

As a temporary visa holder, you are more or less a foreign resident for Australian tax purposes. This simply entails that you are expected to pay a higher tax rate on any income that you make in Australia. In addition, the company structure might be favourable as it roughly has a 30% flat tax rate in Australia. Howbeit, if you want to distribute any of the company income to yourself, you might still have to pay a higher foreign resident tax rate.

  1. Company Structure

Forming a company can be very beneficial for a student in Australia. This is because it offers you the protection of ‘limited liability’. Limited liability means that your personal assets cannot be taken if your business falls into debt. It also allows you to allocate portions of the business to your business partners or investors depending on the contribution that they make.

In addition, forming a company structure can also be beneficial from an investment standpoint. As you only have temporary working rights, investors might only want to invest in your business if you have a company structure in place. This simply ensures that their rights remain in the company even if you leave the country. Additionally, it also provides them with certainty over their returns.

If you decide to run your business through a company structure, you will need to formally incorporate a company through the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) register. ASIC requires that at least one of the directors of your company will need to be an Australian resident. In some cases, an Australian permanent resident might be accepted.

  1. Business Longevity Issues

Another very important factor to consider is how you plan to run your business when your temporary visa expires. When your visa expires, you are expected to leave Australia immediately. If your intentions is to continue running your business from overseas, you will need to have an Australian business partner who will run matters in Australia for you. Howbeit, any income or dividends you receive from the business will attract tax in Australia.

Meanwhile, if you intend to sell your business when your visa expires, you will need to find a suitable buyer in advance. Have it in mind that the process of settling a business sale in Australia can take up to two weeks. Again, remember that any proceeds that you make from the sale of the business will be taxed at a higher foreign resident tax rate.

Conclusion

Starting a business in Australia on a temporary visa might seem like a great idea. However, it can be a very complicated process. You will need to look at your current visa requirements and ensure you can fulfill them if you start a business.

While in possession of a student visa, you have certain obligations to fulfill: you must remain enrolled in a CRICOS-registered course, attend classes regularly, make satisfactory course progress and maintain OSHC health insurance. There are also certain visa conditions you and your dependents must comply with; breaching a visa condition may result in the cancellation of your visa.

Ajaero Tony Martins