Visa holders & migrants

Migrant workers and visa holders, including international students, have the same workplace rights as all other workers in Australia. We provide free advice and assistance to all workers to help them understand these rights.

Find out what you need to know about working in Australia.

If you're having an issue at work, you can Report an issue anonymously. You can make an anonymous report to us in your language using our translated Anonymous report form in multiple languages.

Translated information is available in multiple languages in our Language help section. If you or someone you know needs an interpreter when contacting us or the Department of Home Affairs, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450.

Your visa

The Australian Government has made a number of changes to allow temporary visa holders to extend their visa arrangements during coronavirus. To find out more go to the Department of Home Affairs’ Staying in Australia page external-icon.png.

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.

Visa holders can use Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) external-icon.png to check current visa details and conditions or contact the Department of Home Affairs external-icon.png for more help.

Visa protections – the Assurance Protocol

All people working in Australia have the same basic minimum workplace rights and protections, regardless of their citizenship or visa status. Your rights can’t be taken away by contracts or agreements. We make sure the rights of visa holders are protected and enforced fairly under Australian workplace laws.

Your employer can't cancel your visa, even if you’ve breached your visa conditions. Only Home Affairs can grant, refuse or cancel visas.

We have an arrangement with Home Affairs to support visa holders who come to us for help. Visa holders can seek help without fear of visa cancellation, even if they’ve breached their work-related visa conditions. This arrangement is called the Assurance Protocol.

What is the Assurance Protocol?

Under the Assurance Protocol, Home Affairs usually won’t cancel your visa if you have breached your work-related visa conditions because of workplace exploitation, and:

  • you have sought advice or support from us and you’re helping us with our inquiries
  • there is no other reason to cancel your visa (for example for national security, character, health or fraud reasons)
  • you have committed to following your visa conditions in the future.

Who does the Assurance Protocol apply to?

The Assurance Protocol applies to people on temporary visas with permission to work, such as:

  • Student visa (subclass 500 series visas)
  • Working Holiday Maker visa (subclass 417)
  • Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462)
  • Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)
  • Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482).

For temporary visa holders who don't have permission to work attached to their visa, Home Affairs will consider each case on its merits.

How does the Assurance Protocol work?

Once your case of workplace exploitation has been identified by or reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman, we’ll assess your eligibility for referral to Home Affairs under the Assurance Protocol. If you’re eligible, we’ll always get your permission first before referring your case to Home Affairs. If you’ve met the conditions under the Assurance Protocol, and there is no other reason to cancel your visa, Home Affairs will give you a letter that says your visa won’t be cancelled.

The Assurance Protocol only applies to visa cancellations and doesn’t apply to other visa grants.

What are some signs of workplace exploitation?

There are different types of workplace exploitation and issues that visa holders may experience. These include:

  • threats to cancel your visa
  • wage underpayments
  • unfair deductions, deposits or ‘cash-back’ schemes
  • failure to provide workplace entitlements, for example paid leave or superannuation
  • withholding your passport
  • pressure to work beyond the restrictions of a visa
  • up-front payment or ‘deposit’ for a job
  • employers avoiding tax by making cash payments
  • unpaid training
  • misclassification as an independent contractor instead of an employee
  • unfair deductions from wages for accommodation, training, food or transport.

If you’re a visa holder working in Australia and you’re experiencing workplace exploitation you should ask for our help.

Read more about workplace rights for all visa holders working in Australia external-icon.png on Home Affairs’ website.

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 external-icon.png.

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 us about deductions, cashback schemes or if an employer is asking for payment of any kind as a condition of a job offer.

Seasonal workers

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 or Pacific Labour Scheme pages.

Back to top

Pay and conditions

There are minimum pay rates that employees have to be paid, based on the work they do. Use our Pay Calculator to find out the minimum pay rates for your job.

Employees also have other minimum conditions at work. These are set out either in an Award or agreement, or come from the National Employment Standards.

Visa workers are entitled to the same minimum pay rates as any other Australian employee with the same job in their workplace.

For more information read our fact sheet on 482 and 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.

Watch our short video for information about Working in Australia.

 

Case study: Jessica's story

International students can come to us for help if they're having workplace issues, without fear of their visa being cancelled.

Read Jessica's story (DOCX 129.1KB) (PDF 439.1KB) to see how we can help you sort out workplace issues to do with your pay and conditions.

Visit our Language help page for information in multiple different languages to help you understand what your rights are when working in Australia.

There are some salary requirements for some visas. Find out more more about Salary requirements for 482, 186 and 187 visa workers on the Department of Home Affairs website external-icon.png.

 

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 external-icon.png.

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 external-icon.png.

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.

Back to top

Help with workplace issues

We are here to help you. An employee can't get into trouble or have their visa cancelled for contacting us to ask for information about their pay or other entitlements.

Tell us about your workplace issue by making an online enquiry in My account. If you already have an account with us, 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 Fixing a workplace problem for practical steps on how to fix the problem.

You can also contact us anonymously to help us keep workplaces fair. You can make a report in your language using our translated Anonymous report form, which is available in multiple languages.

Back to top

Want to save this information for later?

If you might need to read this information again, save it for later so you can access it quickly and easily.

You might also be interested in

pdfButtonLong

Page reference No: 2798