Australia seeks foreign workers but beware of illegal recruiters

An apparent skills shortage is driving Australian companies to hire skilled workers from other countries, and the Philippines is seen as a source country for needed workers.  Filipino seeking overseas work will find Australia a good prospect, but they are warned to beware of illegal recruiters.

The Philippine Consulate General in Sydney received reports of individuals posing as recruiters victimizing Filipinos who wish to work in Australia, following news reports in the Philippines in January 2008 that Australia has 120,000 job openings available to foreigners, especially Filipinos.

Filipinos being recruited for Australia must be aware of the type of visa that their recruiter is applying for them. The type of visa commonly issued to Filipinos hired for work in Australia is the “457 Visa”.

Australian companies who wish to recruit skilled workers must be permitted to do so by the Australian Government. The Government issues to these companies a “Temporary Business Long Stay Visa”, which is also known as the “Standard Business Sponsorship Subclass 457 Visa” or the “457 Visa”, which is then provided to the foreigner workers they employ.

These authorized companies can either directly hire Filipino workers or employ a POEA-accredited manpower agency.

A Filipino who is recruited for Australian employment is matched to an Australian company that has been issued a 457 Visa. The Filipino worker receives the 457 Visa through the Australian Embassy in Manila.

The 457 Visa allows a foreigner temporary long stay for work purposes for a period of six months to four years. This visa does not give permanent residency or migration status.

The Philippine Consulate General in Sydney cautions potential workers for Australia against unlicensed manpower agencies or unauthorized Australian companies who illegally recruit Filipino workers. Illegally-hired

foreign workers in Australia are exposed to abuses, hazards, and risks. If they are caught, they are deported and blacklisted from future re-entry into Australia.

The following are signs that a job applicant is being recruited illegally:

  • If a recruiter offers long-term work but does not apply the candidate for a 457 Visa, then it may be an indication that the work is not legitimate or that the employment arrangements are not in order.
  • If a recruiter offers long-term work but applies the applicant for a Short-Stay Business Visa (also called the “456 Visa”), then it may be an indication that the work is not legitimate or that the employment arrangements are not in order. A 456 visa allows entry for business meetings, or conference- or training-related visits and allows a stay of up to three months. Short-term work of up to 6 weeks is only permitted in strictly limited circumstances.
  • If a recruiter offers long-term work but applies the job applicant only for tourist visa, then it is a definite indication that the work arrangement is not legitimate.
    Illegal recruiters often apply a victim for a tourist or short stay business visa, and instruct the latter to change his visa status to a long stay or even a permanent residency in Australia. However, such status changes are not usually allowed.
  • If a recruiter makes the applicant pay for Australian administrative fees and/or air travel to Australia, then the recruiter is violating Australian laws require a company to shoulder all costs of fees and the worker’s air travel to Australia. The worker must not pay for his air travel to Australia.
  • Any Filipino, who was recruited to work in Australia under a 457 Business Visa program and was compelled to pay processing fees or air travel to Australia by their recruiter or employer, may lodge a complaint with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) through email address nsw.457.integrity@immi.gov.au.

Finally, Philippine Consul General Maria Theresa P. Lazaro emphasized that Australia does not allow the recruitment of domestic maids and farm workers from overseas. Any manpower agency that claims to be recruiting maids and farm workers for Australia is deceiving applicants.