Employing Overseas Workers

It is the responsibility of all employers to ensure that they only employ workers who can legally work in Australia.

Employers are expected to take reasonable steps, at reasonable times, to ensure they are not employing illegal workers and could face penalties for engaging an illegal worker even if they didn’t know the worker was not allowed to work in Australia.

Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens

Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens are legal workers and have unlimited permission to work in Australia. 

The easiest way to prove that a person is an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or New Zealand citizen is via a passport. A copy of an Australian passport that is current or expired less than two years ago is sufficient to prove unlimited work rights.

If the person does not have a passport then the following would be acceptable proof:


An Australian birth certificate for applicants born before 20 August 1986 and a form of photo identification.

If the person was born in Australia before 20 August 1986, their full birth certificate issued by an Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (RBDM) would suffice to confirm citizenship, provided their parents were not in Australia as foreign diplomats or consular officers at the time of the persons birth.

Changes to Australian citizenship laws that came into effect on 20 August 1986 mean that persons born in Australia on or after that date need to provide their birth certificate and additional documentation to confirm their citizenship (for example an Australian Citizenship certificate).


Evidence of Australian citizenship (such as citizenship certificate) and form of photo identification.


Certificate of Status for New Zealand citizens in Australia and a form of photo identification.

Applicants with Visas

Some Australian visas have work limitations that could include not being able to work at all or only being able to work with a certain employer or a specific number of hours. It is important that you know what limitations (if any) apply to a potential employee.

Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) allows visa holders, employers, education providers and other organisations to check visa details and conditions.

VEVO provides details relating to a current in-effect visa:

  • which visa
  • the expiry date
  • the must not arrive after date
  • the period of stay (how long you can stay)
  • conditions (what you can and can’t do).

Note: The information contained on this page is of a general nature and does not constitute legal advice. For more information on employing overseas workers visit Hiring someone in Australia (homeaffairs.gov.au)