All workers, including international students, are entitled to Australia’s minimum pay and entitlements. This is the case even if an international student has breached their visa.

If you are not paid your minimum wages you may have to work more hours than your visa allows to earn the money you need. We all know some employers threaten to report your visa breach to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) if you complain about being underpaid. For these reasons it can be difficult for international students to ask for help if they are being ripped off at work.

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) works with DIBP to help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities when working in Australia. You can also ask the FWO to help resolve issues about pay and other entitlements at work.

To support and encourage you to get the help you need, the FWO and DIBP have agreed that your visa will not be cancelled if you:

  • had an entitlement to work as part of your visa
  • believe you have been exploited at work
  • have reported your circumstances to the FWO
  • are actively assisting the FWO in an investigation

This applies as long as you:

  • commit to abiding by your visa rules in the future; and
  • have no other grounds for visa cancellation (such as on national security, character, health or fraud grounds)

Under this arrangement, your visa will not generally be cancelled by DIBP if you ask for FWO’s help and the above conditions are met.

Remember, it’s absolutely OK to speak up and ask for help if you think you have been exploited at work. For more information, please visit the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website.