13 Aug 2021

Preventing the exploitation of visa holders in the workplace

Exploitation of Visa Holders | Interstaff Insights

In Australia, visa holders have the same workplace rights as local Australians. In most cases, these rights are supported by employers, but unfortunately from time to time, cases do arise where visa holders are exploited.

Read on to find out your rights as a visa holder, how you can get support and how the Government is strengthening its commitment to protecting visa holders from exploitation.

Changes to protect visa holders from exploitation

An Exposure Draft of the Migration Amendment (Protecting Migrant Workers) Bill 2021 has been released for 16 August 2021.

The Bill includes five main proposals:

New criminal offences for placing undue influence or pressure on a migrant worker for work arrangements

Provisions to list ‘prohibited employers’ and bar them from employing and/or sponsoring visa holders

Obligations for employers to verify a worker’s immigration status and visa condition prior to work engagement

Aligning and increasing penalties for work-related breaches and offences

New compliance tools for the Australian Border Force to support behavioural change.

This means employers found to be exploiting visa holders or breaching their sponsorship obligations will be put on a list and prohibited from sponsoring new workers.

In addition, legislative instrument, F2021L01030 – Migration Amendment (Subclass 417 and 462 Visas) Regulations 2021 commenced on 28 July 2021 to prevent Working Holiday Subclass 417 and 462 Visa holders from using work with ‘prohibited employers’ for eligibility for a second or third working holiday visa.

What worker rights and visa protections do visa holders have?

The below information is available on the Department of Home Affairs and Fair Work Ombudsman websites and may be helpful to visa holders.

Every person in Australia has the same basic workplace rights and protections, regardless of their visa or citizenship.

Employers cannot cancel your visa – only the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) can grant, refuse, or cancel visas.

Some signs of workplace exploitation include:

Threats to cancel your visa

Wage underpayments, unfair deductions or cash payment schemes

Failure to provide workplace entitlements, such as paid leave or superannuation

Withholding your passport

Pressure to work beyond the restrictions of the visa

If you believe you’re experiencing work exploitation, you should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).

The DHA cannot cancel your visa if you have breached your work-related conditions because of workplace exploitation and you have sought advice or support from the FWO. Conditions apply – find out about the Assurance Protocol on the FWO website here.

Immigracious | Migration Connections Made Simple

We hope this was helpful – you may also be interested in our other articles:

Should you require advice on your Visa or Travel Exemption options, we encourage you to get in touch with  Immigracious’ Migration Agents to arrange a consultation so we can consider your circumstances.

Our Registered Migration Agents provide advice on visa and sponsorship options to both businesses and visa holders.


Immigracious’ Migration Agents

Migration Institute of Australia

The Department of Home Affairs

The Fair Work Ombudsman

Sheila Woods

Posted by: Sheila Woods

A very experienced migration agent, Sheila has always been fascinated by this field. Her university degree thesis was on Australia’s post-war immigration history (and it earned her first-class honours).

Filed in: Uncategorized


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