23 January 2009

DIAC reminds employers to check working rights of Australian visa holders

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is reminding Australian employers of their responsibility to uphold the conditions of Australian immigrants' visas.

The Department warns employers that they run the risk of losing valuable employees if they do not routinely check the full work entitlements of Australian visa holders before hiring them.

"Checking work entitlements make good business sense," a DIAC spokesperson said.  "The last thing a business owner wants is to lose a worker because they do not have a valid visa to work in Australia."

DIAC also warns that the hospitality and retail industry experience the highest rates of foreign workers working illegally. 

"All employers need to be aware that it is a criminal offence to employ or refer a person for work where that person does not hold the entitlement to work in Australia," the spokesperson added.

The government can fine employers breaching visa conditions up to $13,200 and two years' imprisonment for every illegal worker, and the fines for companies can reach up to $66,000 for each illegal worker.

DIAC has also been pushing their new online visa verification system, which is accessible by both organisations and visa holders.

The Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service is a free service that allows Australian visa holders to check the status of their visas online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  The new system also means that the government will no longer issue paper labels for passports for Australian visa holders, so that more information regarding that particular visa (including the conditions of the visa) can be provided online and in a secure environment.

This means that employers can now check visa holders' information online, so that they can be certain they are eligible to work in Australia and are fully informed of the extent of their working rights in Australia.

"VEVO represents a huge step forward.  Visa labels attached to passports provide limited information about visa status and conditions that apply to the visa.  Now, visa holders can find out all about their visa status and visa conditions at the click of a button," said a departmental spokesperson.

The new system has proved to be popular, with more than 50,000 people and 13,000 organisations already using VEVO monthly.  This has considerably taken the load off DIAC offices that checked the visa status of non-Australians, particularly for the thousands of the Australian working holiday visa holders who visited the offices each month last year to get their visa evidenced. 

DIAC has also arranged for materials in a range of languages to help employers with the online verification service, which can be accessed by phoning the employers’ hotline on 1800 040 070 or visiting DIAC's website.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

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