This post is the final part of a series of fictional scenarios designed to help temporary skilled workers holding 457 visas and their sponsors to better understand their responsibilities and obligations. It is also designed to assist you in avoiding visa scams and fraudulent activity. The department takes allegations of fraud very seriously. There are significant penalties if you are caught engaging in fraudulent activity.
- You sponsor has a number of obligations they must follow; otherwise they can face some serious penalties and fines.
- Your sponsor cannot ask you to repay specific costs, such as the costs associated with your sponsorship and nomination.
- Visa holders need to be aware of their sponsor’s obligations.
- Everyone working in Australia is entitled to basic rights and protections in the workplace. To learn your workplace rights you can go to http://www.fairwork.gov.au/find-help-for/visa-holders-and-migrants.
If you are a visa holder and believe that your sponsor is not meeting their sponsorship obligations you can report them anonymously at http://www.immi.gov.au/Help/Pages/immigration-dob-in-service.aspx#what-information-should-you-provide-to-us
If your sponsor is making you work excessive hours or your rights are not being met in the workplace you can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman. The Fair Work Ombudsman can help settle workplace disputes and can be contacted here http://www.fairwork.gov.au/Contact-us/email-us
Please note: names of people and businesses in this story are fictional for the purposes of this case study.
Sasha had been working as an electrician and had been sponsored by Down Thunder Electrical Pty Ltd. When she agreed to work for Down Thunder Electrical Pty Ltd she was promised that after two years they would sponsor her for permanent residence. She was to work 38 hours and be paid $1037 a week. She was enjoying her time working and living in Australia.
After three months of working she was approached by her employer who demanded she pay back money for visa costs. Overall, he demanded she pay back $12,000. If she failed to pay-back this money the sponsor threatened to cancel her visa and not sponsor her for permanent residence. Sasha was very concerned as her new life in Australia was in jeopardy.
Over the next few weeks, with Sasha’s reluctant agreement, her employer withheld $150 from her pay every week to pay back the visa costs. The sponsor also started demanding that she work longer hours and to work on her days off. Sasha was exhausted and struggling to pay rent and bills due to the deductions to her pay. Sasha did not know what to do. She thought that if she stopped paying the sponsor and working the longer hours her visa would be cancelled.
Sasha spoke to her co-workers and discovered that they too were paying back large sums of money to the employer and working longer hours. It appeared to her that she was not the only employee being exploited.
Sasha’s friend noticed that she was worried about work and stressed about her visa. She told Sasha that she could report her employer to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Her friend told her that her employer did not have the power to cancel her visa – as only the department could do that. Her friend also informed her that she could look for another job and seek sponsorship with another company.
Sasha took her friend’s advice and anonymously reported her sponsor to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection through the dob-in line on the website.
Departmental officers visited Sasha’s workplace and discovered that employees were paying visa costs back to the sponsor. The sponsor was barred from further sponsorships and referred to the Fair Work Ombudsman for investigation because of the excessive hours Sasha and her colleagues were being forced to work, and the deductions held from her wages.
Shortly after the Fair Work Ombudsman finalised their investigation. They found that the employees of the business had been underpaid and that the employer was in breach of the Fair Work Act. As a result the company was required to pay Sasha and her co-workers for all the overtime worked for which they had not been paid.
Meanwhile, Sasha was able to find a new sponsor who met their obligations and she was eventually sponsored for permanent residence. The Fair Work Ombudsman was able to assist Sasha in obtaining the money that was owed to her.