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Employing visa holders

South Australia has a growing migrant population. Migrants arriving in South Australia enter under a variety of visa subclasses, with most arriving under a skilled category (source: Department of Immigration and Citizenship Immigration Update 2010-11). Research shows that Australia needs migrants and the skills and economic benefits that they bring with them. Many skilled migrants, however, struggle to secure employment in their area of expertise. If you exclude an applicant just because they are on a visa, you could be losing out on skills that would be valuable to your organisation. It could also be discrimination.

More information:

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) provides a range of information for employers (see below), so hiring a visa holder may be easier than you think.

  • VEVO is an online system, which provides an easy way to find out what visa an employee or prospective employee has, and what conditions, if any, are attached.
  • information regarding how you can fulfil your obligations when employing a visa holder
  • a work entitlement checklist you can use to guide you through the process of employing a visa holder.

Skills For All – Skilled Migrant Services maintains a register of highly skilled workers with overseas gained qualifications and skills. They include people with professional, technical and trade backgrounds. For more information, go to the Skills for All website.

There are some more common myths associated with employing migrants:

Employing a temporary or provisional visa holder will create a lot of extra work.
As above, DIAC provides resources to help streamline the process of employing visa holders.

Visa holders are not committed and won’t stay in the job for long.
Many visas are ‘provisional’ which means migrants are on a ‘pathway to permanency’ and often intend to settle in Australia for the long term. Don’t assume a person’s intentions, ask them instead.

Employees from overseas don’t understand the Australian workplace culture and won’t fit in.
Although there may be a difference in culture, new arrivals will quickly learn from their colleagues and may also be able to teach them something new! It also makes good business sense for your workforce to reflect the diversity of your customers or clients base.

Migrants won’t have ‘local knowledge’
‘Local knowledge’ is something that can be taught – consider the valuable information that may be introduced from someone with different experiences and skills which can be used to enhance your business.

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