Australian court rules rogue sponsor must pay restitution to visa holders

by Ray Clancy on June 8, 2015

in Australia

Foreign workers in Australia on 457 visas will have wages, entitlements and fees repaid after their visa sponsor breached its obligations, a court has ruled.

It is good news for foreign workers on the popular short term work visa whose treatment is currently under the spotlight due to revelations of bad practice.

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Choong Enterprises will have to pay over $152,000 AUD in restitution to the visa holders

In this case, the Federal Court has ruled that a Darwin-based 457 visa sponsor will have to pay over $152,000 in restitution to the visa holders, the first civil penalty order undertaken on behalf of the Immigration Minister in the courts. It is also the first time the Minister has obtained an order for restitution for exploited visa holders.

Choong Enterprises Pty. Ltd. will reimburse seven visa holders almost $126,000 in wages and entitlements as well as pay over $26,000 in tax to the Commonwealth. This is in addition to the $175,000 fine the company received in April this year for the same offences, a total bill of over $335,000.

Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Michaelia Cash, pointed out that the judgment shows significant financial penalties await those who flout the law. ‘This is a fantastic result, which reinforces the hard work and dedication of all officers involved,’ she said.

‘The Government has no sympathy for those who abuse our migration programme and blatantly disregard laws that are in place to protect workers and legitimate business owners,’ Cash added.

The Court found Choong Enterprises committed breaches of the obligation to provide minimum terms and conditions of employment, failed to keep records and ensure visa holders were employed in the nominated position, and unlawfully recovered money from visa holders for migration agent fees.

Cash said visa holders who suspect they are being exploited by their sponsor should contact the Department to discuss their situation and said that from July last year to the end of March this year the department has sanctioned over 200 sponsors.

She warned that his is only the beginning and with Taskforce Cadena now in place, the Department’s ability to identify and bring to justice unscrupulous individuals, abusing not only the 457 programme but the entire temporary visa system, has been enhanced.

‘The Coalition Government understands that at times businesses need to access foreign labour for positions that cannot be filled locally, however we are committed to ensuring integrity is maintained across our migration programmes through rigorous enforcement of the rule of law,’ Cash added.

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