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Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC)

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) grants visas and permission to work to non-Australian citizens.

Permission to work in Australia

  • You may be breaking immigration law if you:
  • do not have permission to be in Australia because you have no visa or your visa has expired
  • do not have permission to work because you are on a tourist visa
  • are working outside the work restrictions in your visa—such as maximum work hours on a student visa.

BE AWARE: People working illegally or in breach of their visa conditions can be sent to a detention centre and deported from Australia.

Penalties for employing people who do not have permission to work in Australia

It is a criminal offence for owners, managers and companies to knowingly employ people who do not have permission to work. Individuals who are convicted of these offences face fines of up to $13,200 and two years' imprisonment while companies face fines of up to $66,000 for each worker.

DIAC provides services for employers to check the work entitlements of new employees, such as the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service. VEVO is a free, internet-based system that allows employers to check the work entitlements of a visa holder online.

When DIAC staff visit sex services premises

DIAC may visit any workplace, including sex industry workplaces, to check that everyone has permission to work in Australia. They can ask for identification such as passport, drivers licence, student or Medicare card from everyone on the premises.

DIAC staff must:

  • provide identification
  • show a current warrant for the address or for a particular person
  • tell the person in charge (owner or approved manager) the purpose of the visit
  • allow sex workers who they want to interview to dress appropriately before the interview starts
  • be offered a private, confidential space for the interview
  • conduct the interview with two officers who are the same sex as the interviewee.

DIAC cannot ask workers to remove clothing, or do a body search.

If you are detained and not allowed to leave, you can request, and have the right to:

  • have an interpreter
  • not answer questions until an interpreter is provided
  • obtain legal advice from a lawyer or an embassy official.

DIAC can work with other agencies such as the NSW Police or Australian Federal Police in visits to sex industry premises, particularly if they have safety concerns.

SWOP help

SWOP can provide:

  • information and referrals in English and other languages about visas and migration for sex work
  • referrals to migration agents and legal services.