21 September 2012

New Australia visa laws clampdown on employers

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Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has announced new legislation designed to prevent employers from hiring staff without a valid Australia visa.

Australia visa

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said employers would have 'no excuse' to not abide by Australian immigration rules.

The Migration Amendment (Reform of Employer Sanctions) adds further recommendations for civil and criminal penalties to employers caught hiring workers without carrying out due diligence to ensure they have a valid Australia visa.

Mr Bowen announced the bill in the Australian parliament earlier this week:

"This legislation strikes a balance between targeting those employers who flout the rules, while taking care not to overstretch the resources of the vast majority of employers who seek to do the right thing," said the minister.

"It enables strong action if initial approaches involving education and targeted warnings fail to convince deliberately uncooperative employers that they are not above the law."

The bill's amendments include a warning system to alert employers they may be in breach of Australian immigration law, a list of steps an employer can take to verify an employee's right to work in Australia and stricter powers to enforce and punish those who fail to comply with the law.

"There will be no excuse for errant employers who repeatedly test the system, claiming that they were unaware of the need to check a person's work entitlements or they did not have the means to do so," said Mr Bowen.

"For those employers who do verify the work entitlements of non-citizens, there are statutory defences in the Bill to protect them.

"Abusing employment practices affects everyone by limiting work opportunities, restricting the migration program and allowing for exploitation of vulnerable people. Abiding by the rules ensures a fair go for employers and workers alike.

The graduated system of sanctions will operate as a last resort and should only be of concern to those employers who seek to circumvent the law."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.

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