Employer Hub

Employing foreign nationals in Australia

If the person you are wanting to employ is a foreign national, already in Australia, you must check that the person is travelling on a visa that gives them the right to work legally here. For more information about employing legal workers, see Employing legal workers.

Employer Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of all employers to employ workers who can legally work in Australia. This includes employees you source via a contractor, or labour hire company; for both paid and unpaid work.

Employers could face penalties for engaging an illegal worker even if they didn’t know the worker was not allowed to work in Australia.

Note: Providing a tax file number (TFN) is not proof of permission to work in Australia.

Australian citizens, permanent residents and New Zealand citizens are legally allowed to work in Australia.

Australia visa holders can also be legal workers, however, some visas do not allow people to work.

Visas can have various work restrictions, such as:

  • Not being able to work at all
  • Working for a certain employer
  • Working for a specific number of hours and/or
  • Working for a specific time period.

Foreign nationals who don’t have a valid visa are not allowed to work in Australia. This includes people who have cancelled and expired visas. To check whether a potential worker is allowed to work, you can register with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s free Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system.

You can also ask the foreign national to email his or her current visa details directly from the VEVO website or the myVEVO app.

For more information about employing legal workers, visit the Employing legal workers webpage to access an employer guide and fact sheet.

First-time employer or sponsor of a foreign national

Employer and/or sponsor responsibilities are outlined in specific visa packages. Specific visa information is available from Work in Australia.

Existing employer or sponsor of a foreign national

It is important that you continue to meet your responsibilities as an employer and/or sponsor. Information about your responsibilities is available on the specific visa package that your employee is granted. Specific visa information is available from Work in Australia.

Visa Options

The visa option tables provide a comparison of visa options for businesses to consider when employing foreign nationals.

Assistance with your application

Registered migration agents can assist with your immigration requirements. The Office of Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) has a list of registered migration agents.

Sponsoring foreign workers

This topic explain​s how to sponsor foreign workers and the requirements that must be met by approved sponsors for:

Note: The person that you want to sponsor could already be in Australia.

Temporary visas

Generally, approved sponsors for temporary visas such as the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) are required to:

  • cooperate with inspectors
  • ensure equivalent terms and conditions of employment
  • keep records
  • provide information to us when certain events occur
  • ensure the primary sponsored person works or participates in the nominated occupation, program or activity
  • not recover, transfer or take actions that would result in another person paying certain costs
  • pay travel costs to enable sponsored persons to leave Australia
  • pay costs incurred by the Commonwealth to locate and remove unlawful non-citizens.

You are responsible for meeting all of your sponsorship obligations, even if you have authorised someone else to act on your behalf, including a migration agent.

We monitor your compliance and whether the visa holders you sponsor are upholding their visa conditions.

We monitor you while you are a sponsor and for up to five years after you cease being a sponsor. There are a number of sanction actions we could take against you if you do not comply with your obligations.

For details of the specific obligations that you must comply with, see the Sponsor information for the visa you are interested in.

Permanent visas

Generally, approved sponsors for permanent visas such as the Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (subclass 187) are required to:

  • actively and lawfully operate a business in Australia
  • have a genuine need for a paid employee to fill a skilled position
  • offer a skilled position in the applicant’s field that is full time and ongoing for at least two years
  • pay a market salary rate
  • comply with Australian immigration and workplace relations laws.

There must also be no adverse information known about your business or any person associated with your business.

Useful links

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