Hot tips: How to avoid visa scams in Australia



A scam is when someone tries to mislead people to steal money, property or personal information, or to get something else valuable.


Some criminals in Australia and around the world use scams to promise work or permanent residency in Australia as a way to exploit people and steal money.


It is important you understand your rights and your employer’s obligations to make sure you protect yourself.


What are visa scams in Australia?

It is unacceptable for sponsors, employers or third parties to gain in a ‘paying for visa sponsorship’ arrangement.

It is also unacceptable for visa applicants to gain permanent residence in Australia, or have the opportunity to work in Australia, by providing benefit to an employer for a job.

Criminal and civil penalties introduced in December 2015 enforce sanctions on a person who asks for, receives, offers or provides a benefit in return for sponsoring a visa.


How to Avoide Australian visa scams?

You can avoid scams by

  • making sure you are aware of your work rights and your employer’s obligations
  • being careful of any job offer which expects an upfront payment or giving back some of your pay
  • reading current scam warnings and understand the warning signs


Be aware of scams

​Be aware that you may be being scammed if:

  • the advertisement lists only a first name and number
  • the employer or agent demands that you pay them a large upfront amount of cash for an ETA or a Visitor visa
  • you are told to get an ETA or Visitor visa for work
  • you are told to set up a company and to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) in order to work
  • the agent organises fake documents and photographs
  • the agent will only provide you with a handwritten contract or handwritten agreement
  • you are promised permanent residence in Australia
  • the employer or agent uses the Australian coat of arms on their website to deceive people into thinking that what they are offering is approved by the Australian Government
  • you are told you will be paid in cash only
  • you are told you won’t be required to get an Australian Government Tax File Number (TFN)
  • the employer or agent in Australia does not have an ABN
  • you are offered a rate of pay below the minimum Australian wage, which all foreign workers are entitled to (see Fairwork).



If you choose to engage in visa fraud and do not go through official channels to apply for an ETA or Australian visitor visa, you risk:

  • losing any upfront cash that you have paid to the agent
  • having your ETA or Visitor visa refused or cancelled
  • having your visa refused and being excluded from obtaining a further visa to Australia for up to 10 years
  • not being permitted on the flight to Australia
  • being refused entry to Australia at the Australian border by the Australian Border Force
  • being stranded at an Australian airport or city
  • being exposed to forced or slave labour
  • not being paid at all by the employer or agent
  • being located and detained by the Australian Border Force and removed from Australia
  • going home with far less money than when you arrived.


Examples of Scams

Tricked by a non-genuine website

Mei was looking at a social networking website and noticed an advertisement for a visa to Australia. The contact details were Australian, so Mei believed the site was legitimate. After registering with the website, Mei received a call from someone in the company. The caller advised Mei she had been assessed eligible for a visa and all she needed to do was pay a fee. The caller was very convincing and Mei paid a fee of AUD600. Mei never heard from the company again. When she tried to follow up on her visa application and get her money back, she discovered the address and phone numbers listed on the website were false.


Don’t listen to bad advice

To increase her chances to obtain permanent residency, Amy, on the advice of a friend, submitted documents that she knew were false. Amy’s visa officer discovered that the documents Amy submitted were false and her visa was cancelled. As a result, Amy had to leave Australia immediately and she will not be able to return for at least three years.



Need help with getting Australian Visas or Visa Appealing?


Email: [email protected]

Tel:  +61 (07) 3876 4000



We will help you by exploring visa options and securing applications. We will assess the eligibility of the application for a partner visa, and provide you with detailed advice on your chances of success. If you would like to discuss your visa options and evaluate the pathway to permanent residency, please make an enquiry or book a consultation to get expert advice with one of our knowledgeable and experienced Migration Agents/Lawyers on 07 3876 4000 or email: [email protected]

Commonwealth of Australia

Book a free consultation today and let us help you find a way forward.