Two IT companies fined $90,750 following ABF investigations into the abuse of Australia’s visa system

ABF officers identified 11 failures relating to its sponsorship obligations, nine of which included underpayment of sponsored workers. 

The ABF Sponsor Monitoring Unit in Victoria launched separate investigations into the IT companies after a number of internal referrals from the Department of Home Affairs.

In one of the cases, allegations were raised relating to foreign worker exploitation, including the underpayment of employees. 

A number of interviews were carried out with people who were sponsored by the IT company to work on Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visas.

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The company provided documents, including payslips and employee records, after ABF officers visited its offices in Melbourne.

The investigation found that the company is a frequent user of the TSS visa program. 

A monitoring process of the company was conducted over a six-month period, with a particular focus on the firm’s compliance with its sponsorship obligations to ensure sponsored workers receive equivalent terms and conditions of employment with Australian workers, and that they are working in their nominated skilled occupation. 

ABF officers identified 11 failures relating to its sponsorship obligations, nine of which included underpayment of sponsored workers. 

The exploitation of foreign workers by underpayment is a serious breach of obligations and the ABF issued a civil penalties infringement notice for $90,750, followed by a formal warning notice. 

A separate investigation into a different IT company, also a large user of the TSS program, found visa holders were not working in their nominated professions.

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The ABF monitored the company for 15 months and interviewed a number of workers.

Officers identified 11 failures relating to the company’s obligation to ensure that a primary sponsored person works or participates in their nominated occupation, program or activity.

The ABF issued a civil penalties infringement notice for $90,750, along with a formal warning notice.  

The ABF and the Department of Home Affairs will continue to ensure that all businesses who use the employer sponsored visa program comply with their sponsorship obligations, including paying workers appropriately.

ABF Acting Superintendent Jessica Fensling, Regional Investigations and the Sponsor Monitoring Unit, said the ABF is dedicated to maintaining the integrity of Australia’s visa programs, and to protecting foreign workers from exploitation.

“Everybody working in Australia has the right to be paid properly, including workers who are holders of sponsored visas,” A/g Superintendent Fensling said.

“The ABF regularly undertakes targeted sponsor compliance activities to ensure businesses sponsoring visa holders are not underpaying workers or breaching their sponsorship obligations.

“Where underpayment or other non-compliance is found, not only will sponsors be required to repay wages owed to employees, they also face harsh fines, cancellation of sponsorship agreements and being barred from making further applications to sponsor workers. 

“The ABF and its partners are committed to targeting those who wish to profit from the exploitation of foreign workers.”

People with information about the exploitation of foreign workers and visa rorting should contact Border Watch at borderwatch.gov.au

By reporting suspicious activities, you help protect Australia’s border. Information can be provided anonymously.