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 someone is excluded from obtaining employment on the basis of their visa, it could be considered discriminatory.
Applying for work as a visa holder
Finding employment can be difficult for a number of reasons, but there are places that can help. Work Ready – Services for Skilled Migrants provides skilled migrants with support in seeking employment, getting overseas gained qualifications, skills and experience recognised and training and career support. For more information, see the Work Ready website at www.skills.sa.gov.au or for more information call 1800 506 266.
If an employer does not consider you just because you are on a visa, it could be discrimination - contact us for more information.
The Commonwealth Fair Work Ombudsman provides information for migrants and visa holders about workplace rights and protections. If you feel you have been discriminated against because of your visa status when you have applied for a job, you can contact us for more information.
Information for employers
It is discrimination not to offer a position solely on the grounds that an applicant is a visa holder. Further, as an employer you could be losing out on skills that could be valuable to your organisation.
However there is plenty of support for employers who want to hire visa holders.
The Commonwealth Department of Home Affairs and the SA state government provide a range of information for employers:
- The Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service 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.
- Work Ready - Services for Skilled Migrants can provide support and advice to employers recruiting visa holders.
There are some more common myths associated with employing migrants:
Employing a temporary or provisional visa holder will create a lot of extra work.
The Commonwealth Department of Home Affairs 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.