Officers from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) have performed a compliance operation in the country’s centre after it was found that 16 workers may have been employed in breach of their visas.
With the cooperation of the Northern Territory Police Force the individuals were detained on a farm in the community of Ti Tree nearly 200 kilometres north of Alice Springs.
A departmental spokesman said that the agricultural estate was known to have a history of employing non-citizens in an unlawful manner and that the operation was part of a larger initiative designed to eradicate illegal work in the region.
Of those detained, 15 have since had arrangements made for their removal from the country, while one of the employees has been released on a bridging visa under strict conditions that mean they must make their own way out of Australia within a certain time frame.
The Northern Immigration Detention Centre and the Darwin Airport Lodge will house the foreign nationals until they depart the country.
Speaking on the developments, the DIAC spokesman said that the compliance operation was targeting individuals and businesses that were found to be operating outside of the country’s immigration legislation.
“It is the responsibility of employers to ensure that non-Australian workers they hire hold a visa with valid work rights,” said the spokesman.
“The department relies on information from a range of sources to help it identify non-compliance concerns, such as illegal workers or overstayers.”
Employers who are convicted of hiring migrant workers illegally can be delivered with fines of up to $13,200 and two years in prison – while the organisation can be hit for $66,000 for each employee that is in breach of their visa conditions.
The DIAC official stated: “Illegal workers in Australia will not be tolerated and the department actively investigates community reports and takes swift action to apprehend non-citizens without work rights.”
To help avoid this, the DIAC makes a number of resources available to businesses seeking to hire on international employees.
The Visa Entitlement Verification Online service gives sponsors the opportunity to receive conformation of a worker’s eligibility by submitting their details – with the individuals consent – through a dedicated web portal.
In addition, business managers should contact Expat’s visa team for qualified advice on visa status and permission to work in Australia.