Employing legal workers


It is the responsibility of all Australian employers to employ, refer and contract legal workers.

Australian employers are expected to take a reasonable number of steps to make sure they are not employing, referring or contracting illegal workers.

Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens are legal workers and have unlimited permission to work in Australia. A single check confirming this at the time of employment is all that is required.

Employers who believe their worker is a foreign national must carry out further checks to confirm that person has a visa with permission to work.

Employers can check a person's visa details by registering for our free, online system Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO). Alternatively, employers can ask their worker to send their visa details directly to them using the VEVO email function.

The VEVO email function is convenient for the employer as you will receive an email directly from the visa holder with their VEVO results. This can be used as evidence that you took steps to confirm permission to work.

VEVO informs visa holders of the conditions associated with their visa, including any work limitations or if they have no work rights. If an employer accepts a VEVO email from a visa holder and there are no work restrictions associated with that person's visa, the employer can be confident that person is a legal worker.

Employers found to have employed, referred or contracted a foreign national who does not have permission to work or is in breach of their visa conditions (an illegal worker) could face penalties of up to AUD3,780 to AUD126,000 per illegal worker.

Our focus is to effectively respond to those businesses that wilfully take part in illegal work, not to penalise businesses who act in good faith.

For more information, see our guide for employers and more information under the 'Resources' heading below.

We encourage people to give information to us by reporting activities relating to illegal workers, fraud and immigration and citizenship offences using the dedicated reporting service.


The following resources provide more information about employing legal workers.

Guide A guide for employers outlining a range of steps employers can take to make sure they are complying.

​Fact SheetFact Sheet – Employing Legal Workers (456KB PDF)
ScenariosExamples of employment scenarios​ and the reasonable steps that are required
Contract clauses Examples of contractual clauses and exchange of letters for use by employers to stipulate that supplied workers are not illegal workers.

Presentation Presentation for use by stakeholders to inform employers about employer sanctions.
VEVO education and training videos Watch the VEVO education and training video to assist visa holders with accessing their visa information from Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO).
Legislation Information on Reforms to Employer Sanctions provides additional detail about the employer sanctions legislation.