International students face tough penalties for illegal work

AN INTERNATIONAL Student Roundtable has called on the Gillard Government to average out the 20-hour weekly work restriction and limit the automatic visa cancellation of students who breach it.

students melbourne

Graphics: Vera Lam

The recommendations, part of submissions given to the Minister for Employment on Monday, come after an independent review last month found there was a growing number of non-citizens working illegally.

Council of International Students Australia president Arfa Noor said the student representatives had agreed to push for the weekly hours’ restriction to be changed to 80 hours over 28 days.

“The 20 hour condition (makes) it very difficult to get a job,” Ms Noor said.

“(Many students) do end up working extra hours, furthering opportunities for exploitation from employers.”

Ms Noor, a Melbourne business student, said the 30 international student representatives, meeting at Old Parliament House in Canberra, decided to push for a more flexible approach, rather than an increase or scrapping of the 20-hour per week restriction.

“The 20 hour work limit is more generous than (elsewhere) internationally,” Ms Noor said.

And if the limit was increased, Ms Noor said they “were worried that students would end up taking advantage of that leniency”.

“The increased work limit may affect students’ academic results,” she said.

Where special circumstances caused students to breach the restriction, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship should be able to consider those reasons before cancelling the visa, the roundtable submitted.

An independent review by Melbourne barrister Stephen Howells found, while it was not possible to calculate how many non-citizens were working illegally, at a minimum the number was 50,000.

“(And) there might now be in excess of 100,000 non-citizens working without permission,” Mr Howell said.

“In simple numerical terms it is the most significant problem facing Australian migration authorities; albeit a small number when compared with the total number of non-citizens who enter as visitors,” Mr Howell, found in the review.

Department estimates for 2010 place the figure at about 73,000, a spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said.

The review found those in breach of visas which allowed some work rights, such as students, were one part of the problem, together with “visa over-stayers” and those who had a visa which did not grant any right to work.

Two weeks ago an immigration operation apprehended six people in their 20s who had been working illegally at the Flemington markets in Sydney.

The Chinese nationals had all arrived in Australia on student visas.

The student visas of four of the people had expired, while the permanent residency applications of the other two had been rejected.

According to a department spokesman, the illegal workers were transferred to a detention centre where they would be processed ahead of their removal from Australia.

“While student visa holders may have work rights, 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,” the spokesman said.

Those with active visas found in breach of their visa conditions face cancellation and potential detention and deportation, plus exclusion periods, the department spokesman further confirmed.

“The exclusion period is three years, however it can be …longer, for instance, if someone was removed from Australia after their visa was cancelled under the character provisions, that equates to a permanent exclusion,” the spokesman said.

Once any exclusion period lapses, a person’s immigration history is considered if they apply for a visa after that time.

The immigration department spokesman also reminded students who may look to focus more on illegal work than study that course records such as attendance and academic performance are provided to the department when international students fail to reach required standards.

There are 29 comments

  1. Raeka Orvelle

    The illustration “non-citizens working illegally” doesn’t look right. There are millions of non-citizens who can work as long as they want (if you refer “legal” to work hour limit). These non-citizens are called “Permanent Residence”.

    1. Nuzail

      Why do you wanna report them ?? are you jealous of them . . you indians pakistanis and butt hurted nepalese better mind your own business .

  2. Nasir

    I am working as a Security Officer and there are more than 15 people working
    for same company as a security Officer full time they are all International Student
    and being underpaid and receiving CASH never pay any TAX on their wages
    It is effecting our working hours very badly and I have told my Site Manager about
    this matter but he is accommodating these illegal non citizen worker because they
    are cheap and can work with flat rates on w/end and public holidays.
    If you department can help me I can gave all the detail and address of the

  3. Eric Cartman

    Did you notice its just a bunch of broken English speaking immigrants reporting other immigrants who are just trying to make an honest living and may be help out a clan overseas. shame on you all selfish bastards!.

  4. Jimmy smith

    Look at ya Nepalese and Indians. Why do you wanna report them just because ya feel jelous of them living peacefully or earning more than ya. Couldn’t be a better reason for ya. Bunch of retards, do something with your life and stop looking at others.

  5. Boogers

    Why on earth would you report a student working more hours??? What is wrong with you guys???
    Have you any idea how expensive studies are and the cost of living? Do you seriously think someone can pay all that by working 20h/ week?
    Shame on you all, stupid brainless people!!!

      1. neil

        exactly. I’m on a student visa and it is somply not econimically viable to live on 20hours a week. It creates a situation whereyou have to work for cash to make up the difference, which leads to all sorts of problems. If they increased it to 30 hours a week it would be much better.

        As it stands there is exploitation from both sides but for the most part international students just want to further their education and work a reasonable amount of hours to do so comfortably.

  6. Johnny Kent

    I do think the 20 hours per week rule can be very tedious, considering some of us are having a difficult time with the cost of living, let alone having to pay the buttload of tuition fees. It’s ridiculous how some illiterate individuals here seem to be complaining about how others are getting more time- firstly, it is most likely because they are hard workers and do indeed deserve the given time and the money, and secondly, how would it any way benefit you from doing so? Would you get more working hours? Seem favourable and mighty to the Department so that they would miraculously offer you permanent residency due to your snitching ways? The way I see it, if people want to risk it, let them be. The selfishness of people nowadays just absolutely baffles me.

  7. Anonymous

    These all students are here for working not for studying. everyone know the education level & system of Australia.

  8. Anonymous

    Those are complaining about each others shame on you. They all are those who got chitizenship before 2012 and now they are teaching us

  9. Aquabeing1

    The virtue signalling on display in this comments section is sickening.
    If it makes you feel better displaying how much you care for these “downtrodden” lawbreakers then you need to take a long walk off a short pier.
    The laws of this country are there to protect the rights of it’s citizens.
    To disrespect the law is to disrespect this nation.
    Some people just want to watch the world burn.

  10. Suhana

    In online i asked if i can work extra hrs in cash then she told me she has to tell the conversation to immigration as it is illegal. What will happen to me. Its been just one month in australia and i dont know about it. I thought it was legal.

  11. harry

    do u know how much they have to sacrifice to complete their study. college time is the best time for having fun . who want to waste it ,everyone want to enjoy it, but they have to work more for survive . how much they have to undergo the pain , no one else can understand . live and let other live.

  12. Brian

    My sister in law and others intend to work in Australia on student visas for 2 years years. This is from a Thai agent in Bkk who ‘knows’ people at the Embassy. They are not students and have no intention to study and cannot speak English. They are not intentionally involving themselves in fraud, they just believe what the agent is telling them.
    Unfortunately they will not tell me the agents name but I have seen a photo of him handing out work contracts in Bkk. Many people appear to have gone down this route to work illegally in Australia already and it appears they are doing it with the help of staff Issuing student visa’s. Who to tell? Tried the reporting page on the Embassy site but did not work

  13. James

    Not fair to work somewhere and you try to work honestly as you got all the working rights but instead the company gives you less hours and just gave the international student lots and lots of hours even they knows about it. The pay rate what so ever is exactly the same as mine so there is no comparison but just students are getting more favour rather than people with working rights. For me I’m not being an ass but I’m just looking for a fair work environment where the employer knows what’s right and wrong and also they do share the hour equally but not giving students full time hours and other casual hours. Just I believe if I do not take action against the company itself things will never be fair or changed.

Post Your Thoughts