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The Best Way to Employ Australian Visa Holders

Many sectors of the Australian job market are currently experiencing unprecedented, resulting in numerous businesses that are struggling to fill their workforce needs. More and more companies are looking offshore for employees who’s skills are in short supply in Australia, or employees who bring with them cutting edge skills and technologies to educate our workforce.

With more business considering off shore employees every day, it is important to understand the benefits, legal obligations and common pitfalls when employing visa holders outlined below.

Advantages of International Employees

Given the global pace of change in technology focused industries, or the rapid growth of industries like Tourism and Hospitality in Australia, international workers can sometimes be the best option for your business.

While employing locally or up-skilling current employees is often ideal, unfortunately this isn’t always possible. Whether the skills needed are in short supply or needing fresh ideas or expertise with modern technology is a priority, employing workers from overseas can be a perfect solution.

Finding Skilled Workers (Onshore and Offshore)

Without employing a recruitment agency or migration agent to inform your search for offshore employees, there are two major options when employing international citizens, onshore recruitment and offshore recruitment.


The largest group of potential employees you will encounter while advertising roles offshore are workers eligible for sponsored work.

Once approved as a business sponsor, employers can take on works from specific occupation lists for either temporary employment (on a 482 Visa) or permanent employment (on a 186 or 187 Visa).

Visit the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) website for more information on the options available.


If you regularly recruit new staff in Australia, chances are you’ve probably encountered applications from internationals living with work rights on shore. These would include:

  • Student Visa Holders (with fortnightly work restrictions)
  • Working Holiday Visa Holders (with short term work restrictions)
  • Refugees (inc. subclass 855 or any 200’s subclass visas)
  • Skilled Migrants looking for new sponsors (inc. 457, 482 186 and 187 visa subclasses)

It is easy enough for many businesses to continue their regular recruitment practices while looking for onshore visa holders. Modifying job ads to specifically mention visa workers and certain online advertising practices can increase your visibility to onshore visa holders.

It is key that when your business is recruiting any visa holder that you remain aware of the nuances between the visa subclasses and how that effects your employment obligations.

Employer Obligations

Regardless of citizenship or visa subclass, all Australian workers have the same rights and protections.

As well as meeting your obligations as a business sponsor, in the case of a 482 or 186 visa, employers must comply with Australian workplace laws including the right to pay rate and the right to a safe workplace. These rights and obligations cannot be taken away or contracted out.

Furthermore, employers are obliged to maintain awareness of every visa holders right to work for the duration of their employment, A task that proves increasingly complicated for business with large visa holding populations.

The Importance of Regular Vevo Checks

For all the advantages of employing skilled individuals from overseas, the complexity of the work entitlement and the differences between visa types can create a number of problems for employers.

Maintaining your approved sponsorship status for sponsored visa subclasses like the 457, 482, 186 and 187 is one part of maintaining compliance in sponsoring these visa types. But if an employees visa is cancelled suddenly, their subclass has extra rostering requirements or it does not require sponsorship a business can find themselves unawarely employing illegal workers.

Visibility over an employees visa status for the duration of their employment is key to avoiding legal issues. Ensuring the right to work during on-boarding is not the end of an employers obligation. If an employee is found without work rights at any point in their employment, the business is just as liable as the employee.

As a result Maintaining regular checks is key to avoiding any surprises from the DHA, a process that can be costly and time consuming if done monthly through The Departments VEVO system as they recommend.

Automated visa management platforms like Checkworkrights can dramatically increase the efficiency of this process, especially for employers with large amounts of visa holders. With regular checks performed in bulk and integration to current HR and Payroll systems available through our robust Restful API, it becomes easy to remain on top of your obligations.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is general only, and not to be taken as Migration Advice. Please be aware that visas and regulations are subject to frequent change. It is advisable to verify the latest information from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and or seek specific advice relating to your circumstances from a MARA Registered Migration Agent.