Visa Holders & Migrants
May 21, 2019
Migrant workers and visa holders, including international students, have the same workplace rights as all other workers in Australia. Fairwork provide free advice and assistance to all workers to help them understand these rights.
It's important to know the rules for your visa. Your visa may limit the type of work you can do in Australia. Some visas have rules about how many hours you can work (eg. international students), or what job you can do (eg. a seasonal worker).
The Department of Home Affairs can give you information about:
- which visa to apply for
- your rights and responsibilities under a visa
- how to change and cancel your visa
- how to apply for permanent residency.
Your employer can't cancel your visa, even if it's been breached. Only the Department of Home Affairs can grant, refuse or cancel visas. The Ombudsman set up an arrangement with the Department of Home Affairs to support and encourage migrant workers to come forward to request their assistance and provide them with any evidence or information about exploitation. This will help to better understand the issues faced by visa holders and migrant workers so that they can educate employers and employees about entitlements and obligations.
They've come to an agreement with the Department of Home Affairs that a person's temporary visa will not be cancelled if they:
- had an entitlement to work as part of their visa
- believe they have been exploited at work
- have reported their circumstances to us
- are actively assisting us in an investigation.
This applies as long as:
- they commit to abiding by visa conditions in the future
- there is no other basis for visa cancellation (such as on national security, character, health or fraud grounds).
For temporary visa holders who don't have work entitlements attached to their visa, the Department of Home Affairs will consider the case on its merits.
Paying For Visa Sponsorship
It is illegal for someone to ask for, receive, offer or provide a benefit in return for visa sponsorship or employment that requires visa sponsorship. This is called 'paying for visa sponsorship.' Examples of this include:
- an employer makes someone pay them money in exchange for sponsoring them on a 457 visa
- an employer makes someone pay back some of their pay each week in exchange for a visa.
If you think your employer is engaging in 'paying for visa sponsorship' activity you can contact the Department of Home Affairs.
It could also be a 'cashback' scheme or an unreasonable requirement to pay money. Read more about this on our Deducting pay and overpayments page. You can Contact The Fairwork Obudsman about deductions, cashback schemes or if an employer is asking for payment of any kind as a condition of a job offer.
People from the Pacific region and Timor-Leste can work in Australia in certain industries as seasonal workers. To find out more visit the Seasonal Worker Programme page.
Pay And Conditions
There are minimum pay rates that employees have to be paid, based on the work they do. Use the Pay Calculator to find out the minimum pay rates for your job.
If you're here on a 457 visa or 482 visa, your employer can't pay you in cash. Your minimum pay rates need to be paid by electronic funds transfer or cheque. For more information read our fact sheet on 457-workplace rights and entitlements.
A payslip needs to be provided each time an employee gets paid. Visit our Pay slips page to find out what should be on a pay slip.
Tax And Superannuation
The minimum pay rate is the gross pay (the amount of pay before tax is taken out). The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) gives advice about tax and superannuation. You need to give your employer your Tax File Number (TFN) so that they do not have to take the highest rate of tax from your pay. For more information about tax, visit the ATO website.
If you're a temporary resident working in Australia, your employer may also have to pay super for you. Find out more about Super for temporary residents leaving Australia on the ATO website.
You can keep track of the number of hours you've worked easily with our Record my hours app. This app is available in multiple languages.
Help With Workplace Issues
An employee can't get into trouble or have their visa cancelled for contacting the Ombudsman to ask for information about their pay or other entitlements.
Tell them about your workplace issue by making an online enquiry in My account. If you already have an account, go to the enquiries form now.
Don't have an account yet? Register for My account now.
If you think your employer has made a mistake with your pay or entitlements, visit Help resolving workplace issues for practical steps on how to fix the problem.
You can also contact Fairwork anonymously to help them keep workplaces fair. You can make a report in your language using our translated Anonymous report form, which is available in multiple languages.