Visa holders and migrants

Closing Loopholes: Fair Work Act changes

The Australian Government has made further workplace laws as part of its ‘Closing Loopholes’ changes.

This may affect the information on this page.

Learn more at Closing Loopholes.

Help in your language

For workplace advice in your language, you can:

  • translate pages by choosing your language from the menu at the top of the page
  • find information and resources in our Language help section
  • call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 and ask them to call us on 13 13 94.

Visa holders and migrant workers have the same workplace entitlements and protections as all other employees in Australia.

We provide free advice and assistance to all workers to help them understand these legally enforceable rights.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is here to help you. We are an Australian Government agency who helps regulate Australian workplaces. You can't get into trouble or have your visa cancelled for contacting us to ask for information about your pay or other workplace rights.

Find out more about How we can help.

Case study – Vivek’s story

Vivek, an aged care worker, shares his story about how the Fair Work Ombudsman was able to help him understand his workplace rights and obligations. This gave him the knowledge and confidence to resolve his workplace issue.

Protections for migrant workers

Migrant workers in Australia have the same entitlements and protections under the Fair Work Act as other employees. This includes for things like:

  • pay and wages
  • protection from discrimination
  • notice of termination and final pay.

Migrant workers continue to have these entitlements and protections regardless of their migration status under the Migration Act 1958. This includes situations under the Migration Act when a migrant worker:

  • has breached a condition of their visa
  • doesn’t have work rights, or
  • doesn’t have the right to be in Australia.

There may still be consequences under the Migration Act for migrant workers who don’t comply with their visa conditions or that Act. A breach of the Migration Act also doesn't affect the validity of an employment contract or a contract for services under the Fair Work Act.

For example, there may be situations where a worker on a student visa works over the cap of the hours they’re allowed to work under their visa. The worker is still entitled to receive their full workplace entitlements for all hours worked despite this breach. The worker also has the right to apply to a court or tribunal to recover unpaid wages and entitlements.

If you’re a migrant worker in breach of your visa conditions, you can still ask for our help to receive your minimum entitlements.

Example: Migrant worker not being paid for time worked

Leon is a kitchen hand in a restaurant. He has a student visa which only allows him to work for 48 hours per fortnight. Over the past month, his boss, Sam, makes him work 60 hours a fortnight.

When Leon checked his pay slips, he realised he was only paid for 48 hours each fortnight, not the 60 hours he worked.

When Leon raised the underpayment with Sam, Sam told Leon that Leon’s visa only allows him to work for 48 hours per fortnight. Sam also said he won’t pay Leon for the other 12 hours.

Leon knows that working more than 48 hours each fortnight may be breaching his student visa. But he also knows he is entitled to the entitlements and protections under the Fair Work Act.

Leon decides to contact us (the Fair Work Ombudsman) for information and help on what he can do next.

Your visa

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 (for example, international students), or what job you can do (for example, a seasonal worker).

The Department of Home Affairs (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.

To check your current visa details and conditions you can:

For more information on workplace conditions for certain visa types, read our fact sheet on 482 and 457 visa holder's workplace rights and entitlements.

Paying for visa sponsorship

It's 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 Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482)
  • 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.

Cashback schemes

Cashback schemes are also illegal. A cashback scheme is where an employer unreasonably requires someone to pay them in exchange for a job.

For more information, see Deducting pay and overpayments.

If you need our help about any deductions, cashback schemes or if an employer is asking for payment of any kind as a condition of a job offer, you can Contact us.

Visa protections – the Assurance Protocol

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. For more information, see Visa protections - Assurance Protocol.

Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme

The Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme supports Australian businesses in hiring workers from 9 Pacific islands and Timor-Leste when there are not enough local workers available.

All employees under the PALM scheme have the same workplace rights as other employees in Australia. Find out more about your rights and entitlements on our Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme page.

For more information about the scheme, visit the Australian Government's Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme website.

Pay and conditions

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

Being paid

There are minimum pay rates that you have to be paid, based on the work you do. To find out the minimum pay rates for your job, use our Pay and Conditions Tool.

Salary requirements

Some visas have extra salary requirements. Find out more about salary requirements for 482, 186 and 187 visa holders on the Department of Home Affairs website.

Pay slips

Your employer needs to give you a payslip every time you get paid. To find out what a pay slip is and what should be on it, see Pay slips.

Hours of work

You can easily keep track of how long you've worked for with our Record my hours app, which is available in multiple languages.

Minimum conditions

You also have minimum conditions at work. Conditions are rules about what employees get at work, such as how many hours they work and how often they get a break. These conditions are set out under law and in legal documents including:

We have information in different languages to help you understand your pay and what minimum conditions are when working in Australia on our Language help pages.

You can also watch our short video for information about Working in Australia.

Tax and superannuation

When you start a new job, you need to give your employer your Tax File Number (TFN). Your employer will take out tax from your salary or wage. Your payslips will show how much tax has been taken out.

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.

How we can help

If you need our help, you can:

Getting help - International students

International students can come to us for help if they’re having workplace issues, without fear of their visa being cancelled. They can come to us for issues like not getting the right pay or other entitlements, like leave or notice of termination.

We have case study videos about how you can get help and how we can help resolve issues. Find out more on our Young workers and students page.

For information to help students studying and working in Australia, read our International students fact sheet.

Tools and resources

Related information

Have a workplace problem?

Problems can happen in any workplace. If you have a workplace problem, we have tools and information to help you resolve it.

Check out our Fixing a workplace problem section for practical information about:

  • working out if there is a problem
  • speaking with your employer or employee about fixing the problem
  • getting help from us if you can't fix the problem.