An appropriate work visa in Australia is required foreigners to work in Australia. As an employer you can either employ foreigners who already have a work visa in Australia or you can seek employer sponsorship for foreign talent you need so that they can apply for an Australian work visa.

One of the biggest mistakes employers make when it comes to dealing with foreign workers, is that they assume that these foreigners have the right working visa in Australia. The common mistake with employer sponsorship is nominating the wrong job – employer sponsorship must nominate gazetted jobs.

This assumption can spell trouble for both the employer and the worker, if found to be wrong.

The government has actually legislated to criminalise the action of businesses that ‘knowingly or recklessly’ employ foreign workers who do not have the right working visa in Australia. The problem for employer sponsorship visa is refusal if the wrong jobs is nominated.

Saying that the employer did not know or was misled will no defence. The directors of the business may be held personally liable.

Employers in breach of their obligations may be given one warning for transgressions but take note that the penalties for breach of these laws can be significant: individuals found to have contravened the hiring rules for foreigners may be fined $15,300 or imprisoned for up to 2 years. A company may be fined up to $76,500 for a single offence.

The legislation is such that even in circumstances where the employer is not aware that it has employed, or is continuing to employ, a person who does not have the right visa to work in Australia or who does not have the right under their Visa to do the particular kind of work that they have been engaged to do an employer could be sanctioned.

What can you do as an employer to get a work in Australia

The simple answer is: do the right thing. If you are not sure, of what to do then hire a migration lawyer to help set up a system to do the right thing when it comes to getting a working visa in Australia for employing foreigners.

Essentially, you will need to know what obligations the law imposes on businesses in connection with an Australian work visa and employing overseas workers.

The law basically requires that employers are able to demonstrate that they have taken reasonable steps at reasonable times to verify that a foreign worker is not an unlawful non-citizen and not a lawful non-citizen in breach of work-related visa conditions. In other words, they have the right Australian work visa.

Some of the key steps in keeping on the right side of the law in this matter include but are not limited to the following:

  • obtain the required rights to hire foreigners
  • nominate the appropriate position, noting that only gazetted occupations may be approved
  • apply for the relevant visa
  • require evidence from the workers that identifies them and states whether they had the relevant rights to work in the business
  • scrutinise any evidence that was provided rigorously
  • maintain meticulous records in respect of each employee’s work rights
  • undertake a search of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system
  • periodically check their worker’s rights where they are aware or ought to be aware that a worker’s rights may have expired during the period of their engagement.
  • require evidence from the workers that identifies them and states whether they had the relevant rights to work in the business
  • meet the workers’ minimum pay and condition requirements.


Key things you need to know about sponsoring a foreign worker


  • Labour market testing – this requires prospective employers of people under the 457 visa program to demonstrate their efforts to “test” the local labour market to ensure Australians had the first opportunity to seek job opportunities.
  • English Language Requirement – this has been lowered. There are various test that can be used to demonstrate this. For example, under the lowered standards, instead of requiring visa applicants to achieve a score of at least five in each of the four tests – listening, reading, writing and speaking – the requirement has shifted to an average of at least five.
  • Market salary rate rules. These rules aim to ensure 457 visa holders have the same salary and employment conditions as Australians undertaking similar work.
  • Compliance and reporting obligations – it isunlawful for sponsors to be paid by visa applicants for a migration outcome. This has been reinforced by a robust penalty and conviction framework. Full and proper employment records must be kept

We’ll help you get the talent your business needs.

Compliance, complex requirements, and ever-changing visa laws need not derail your business, if you get professional help

Staying on top of visa rules is what we do so that you can focus on your business. We’ll show you how to become a sponsor, maintain compliance obligations and apply for foreign talent visas.

Work visa applications do not need volumes of information. It needs the right type. The key is to address the complex criteria with an evidence based submission which deals with potential objections.

We help manage risks and get the foreign talent you need

With expertise in Australian Migration Law ranging from visa applications to challenging the department’s decisions, Gomez Lawyers focuses on helping clients obtain and retain their Australian visa.

With extensive experience as a corporate and commercial lawyer, Jerry also has a keen interest in assisting migrants settle into Australia with the Firm’s Private Client Legal Services. Empowering our clients with a solid legal foundation as they begin life and business as Australians is the purpose of our Private Client Services. Things can and do go wrong. So we stay in touch to give accessible and supportive legal services that are effective, efficient and affordable. At Gomez Lawyers, our mission is your success.