By Kelly Godfrey
Do you know what VEVO is and are you registered for it? If not, you should be.
What is VEVO?
The Department of Home Affairs (aka Immigration and Citizenship) has an online system where you can check whether a worker can lawfully work for you in Australia and the conditions of their visa. The online system is called Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO).
What do you need to undertake a VEVO check?
- Obtain the worker’s consent to check the work conditions on their visa.
- Obtain a copy of the worker’s passport and check the photo matches the person who has provided it to you.
- Obtain from the worker or the passport the worker’s full name, date of birth, passport number and name of the country from which the passport was issued.
- Go to the Department of Home Affairs website: immi.homeaffairs.gov.au.
- Click on the VEVO tab.
- Register to access VEVO.
- Insert the requested information.
- Once complete, you will be provided with the requested information.
You cannot use VEVO to check an Australian citizen’s work rights, as Australian citizens have unlimited rights to work or study in Australia. To confirm a worker is an Australian citizen, you can request they provide an Australian birth certificate, Australian citizenship certificate or Australian passport.
Australian citizenship and a worker’s work rights cannot be checked or verified by the provision of:
- a tax file number;
- a driver’s licence;
- a Medicare card;
- a Job Services Australia Job Seeker ID number;
- a bank account statement; or
- referrals from other employment agencies, labour suppliers or previous employers.
What information will VEVO provide?
Not all visas allow a person to lawfully work in Australia. That is why undertaking a VEVO check is so important. A VEVO check will verify the following details:
- passport number;
- passport nationality;
- visa type (class/subclass);
- visa grant date;
- visa expiry date (if applicable); and
- work entitlement (including any conditions);
Where a worker is on a temporary visa, you should undertake a VEVO check every 3 months.
Where VEVO shows a visa expiry date, recheck around the expiry date.
Who can validly work in Australia?
A worker can validly work in Australia if they are an:
- Australian citizen;
- Australian permanent resident;
- New Zealand citizen who entered Australia on a current New Zealand passport and was granted a visa with work entitlements on arrival; and
- non-Australian citizen holding a valid visa with work entitlements on their visa.
Why is it important to check a worker’s right to work in Australia?
It is a criminal offence for an employer, labour hire organisation or contractor to knowingly or reckless employ someone who is either illegally in Australia or working in breach of their visa conditions. Individuals who engage such workers can be issued with a warning, fined up to $13,200 or imprisoned for 2 years per worker. Companies can be issued with a warning or fined up to $66,000 per worker. Higher penalties apply where a worker is being exploited by way of slavery, forced labour or sexual servitude.
Prechecks and contracts
You should check the validity of a worker’s ability to lawfully work in Australia before making an offer of employment. The worker’s contract should include a provision that makes their engagement and ongoing employment/service conditional upon them having a lawful right to work in Australia.