Proposed changes to the immigration legislation will increase the penalties for employers who hire illegal workers.

The proposed Migration Amendment (Reform of Employer Sanctions) Bill 2012 will issue penalties on a tiered system that is likely to include a mix of fines, infringement notices, civil penalties, and criminal sanctions.

The legislation follows on from an independent review taken last year by legal expert Stephen Howells, which “showed that more needed to be done to make the existing sanctions more effective in deterring these illegal work practices.”

Bowen suggested last year that the legislation changes could also be supported by amendments to the Visa Entitlement Verification Online system, which is more commonly known as VEVO and allows employers to quickly and easily check the work rights of a prospective non-citizen employee online, using details provided by the individual.

Any new laws, he said, will be accompanied by a comprehensive education campaign designed to arm employers and labour suppliers with the knowledge they need to make wise choices.

These changes come at a time when the tax office is already sharing database information with the DIAC, and it is clear:

  1. that employers need to be careful when they employ foreigners, or they will lose the ability to sponsor skilled foreigners, and they can also face severe penalties and fines; and
  2. that foreigners need to strictly comply with work conditions as breaches are likely to be detected and punished, and the worker will probably jeopardise any chance of securing a visa to Australia in the future.

The Migration Place has advised a number of employers and employees who were in breach, and generally the breach has been inadvertant and could have been avoided by taking the correct steps.

See us before there is an issue and before you breach – we can probably identify a solution which keeps your activity lawful, and therefore keeps your life simple and free of penalty!

Please also remember that any information you give to a migration lawyer is protected by legal professional privilege (so we cannot disclose that information to anyone) whereas migration agents must disclose information and documentation if requested to do so by the DIAC.

 

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