Employ people from overseas

Your business can benefit from employing people from overseas if you need skills that are in short supply, or if you want to discover new ideas and technologies.

Advantages of employing people from overseas

Employing people from overseas can sometimes be the best option for your business.

If possible, it's a great idea to employ locally. Even if you can't find the skills you need, you can train existing employees so they meet the demands of your business.

Unfortunately, this isn't always possible. You might have a position that needs to be filled and you can't wait for someone to be skilled up. Or maybe your business is just surviving and you don't have the time or money to provide training.

Whether you need skills that are in short supply in Australia, or want to bring in fresh ideas and new ways of doing business, employing people from overseas can be a great solution.

Skilled workers from overseas who are already in Australia

You can employ workers from overseas who are already in Australia and have rights to work in Australia, such as:

  • International students: Note that restrictions apply to when students are can work and how many hours. Find out more about work conditions for student visa holders.
  • Visitors on working holiday visas: The working holiday maker program encourages visa holders to find short-term or casual work in specific industries in regional Australia. Head to the working holiday visa page to find out which industries and regions are specified for this program.
  • Refugees: Anyone who has a protection (subclass 866) or refugee or humanitarian (all subclass 200s) visa is allowed to work and live in Australia as a permanent resident.
  • Skilled migrants: Migrants who have come to Australia on a skilled visa because they have skills that are in demand in Australia.

You can use your usual recruitment process to employ skilled workers from overseas who are already in Australia.

Skilled workers living overseas

You can also employ workers who are living overseas but want to come work in Australia by either:

  • Sponsoring a worker on a permanent basis: You can sponsor skilled workers for permanent migration through the Employer Nomination Scheme or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (if your business is in regional Australia).
  • Sponsoring a worker on a temporary basis: You can sponsor skilled workers for the Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa, which allows them to come to Australia to work for up to 4 years.
  • Entering into a labour agreement: You can employ a number of overseas skilled workers on a permanent or temporary basis by entering into a formal labour agreement with the Australian Government.

Find out more about the options available to businesses on the Department of Immigration and citizenship website.

Your obligations

As an employer, it's your responsibility to make sure your employees are allowed to work in Australia:

  • Read information and examples of reasonable steps to take when employing legal workers.
  • Use the free online service Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) to check if your employees are allowed to work in Australia.
  • Check the conditions of your employees' visas for any requirements you need to meet as the employer.

You should also know that everyone who works in Australia has the right to basic protections in the workplace. You must provide the 10 minimum entitlements of the National Employment Standards to all your employees, including those from overseas.

Support for employers

State and territory governments have a range of programs to support employers. Find out who you can contact about employing people from overseas in your state or territory.

The Department of Home Affairs manages Australia's skilled migration.


SkillSelect is an online service that holds the details of skilled workers and business people living overseas who are interested in migrating to Australia.

As an employer, you can search SkillSelect by occupation, qualifications and English language ability. Once you have discussed your employment opportunity with your preferred worker, you can choose to sponsor and employ them by nominating them for a skilled visa.

Visit SkillSelect now to find out more about the process.

Supporting your employees from overseas

Be aware that different cultures and countries have different ways of relating to each other in the workplace. Take the time to explain how things work, and encourage your employees to ask questions if they're unsure about anything.

It's also important to ensure your existing employees are sensitive to different backgrounds and cultures.

Here are some suggestions to help your workers from overseas settle in to your workplace:

  • Arrange a mentor or buddy to give them ongoing support.
  • Give clear information about what's expected of them.
  • Avoid Australian expressions they may not understand, for example "Bob's your uncle", or explain it to them when you use it.
  • Provide diversity training to all employees.

Get some more tips from New Arrivals – New Connections - an employer’s guide to working with migrants and refugees.

Race discrimination

It’s unlawful to disadvantage employees and job seekers in any way because of their:

  • race or colour
  • descent, national origin or ethnic origin.

To make sure you have a discrimination-free workplace, and you understand your rights and responsibilities as an employer, check out:

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