Visa protections – the Assurance Protocol

All people working in Australia have the same minimum workplace rights and protections, regardless of their citizenship or visa status.

Your rights can't be taken away by employment 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. Under this arrangement, 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 won't cancel your visa if you have breached your work-related visa conditions because of workplace exploitation, as long as:

  • 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)
  • Temporary Work (International Relations) visa (subclass 403).

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?

When we have identified or you have reported your case of workplace exploitation to us, we’ll assess your eligibility to be referred 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 cancellation considerations.

When the Assurance Protocol is applied, Home Affairs won’t consider any breaches of your work-related visa conditions as negative information when considering your future visa applications. This includes any current visa applications you may have already started.

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
  • not receiving workplace entitlements, for example, paid leave or superannuation
  • having your passport taken and held by someone else
  • pressured or made to work beyond the restrictions of a visa
  • being pressured to pay an up-front payment or 'deposit' for a job
  • employers avoiding paying tax by making cash payments of wages to you
  • 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 visa holder workplace rights and restrictions on the Home Affairs website.

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