Filipinos In Australia Warned Against Overstaying

Filipinos in Australia warned against overstaying

Manilla Standard
April 13, 2007

The Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday warned Filipinos against overstaying in Australia following the passage of amended Migration Act of 1958 of Australia that imposes stiffer penalties on illegals.

Philippine consul general in Sydney Maria Theresa Lazaro reported to the foreign affairs department that the Australian government has passed the amendments to the Migration Act.

The new law imposes stiffer sanctions on employers who take in overstaying foreigners or those individuals who are in breach of visa conditions. This will make employment more difficult for Filipino overstayers and tourists, as well as the Filipino-Australian employers, recruiters and migration agents.

The amendments, known as the Australian Migration Amendment (Employer Sanction) Act of 2007, aim to impose sanctions on persons who are connected with work by unlawful non-citizens or work in breach of visa conditions and for related purposes. The act is expected to be enforced starting in August this year.

According to Filipino-Australian lawyer Imelda Argel, the new law aims to curb illegal immigration, people smuggling and labor exploitation by cracking down on Australian employers, recruitment agencies, manpower service firms and even migration agents who knowingly breach Australian labor laws by employing, exploiting and/or even simply giving work referrals to illegal immigrants.

By allowing or referring an illegal immigrant, employers or persons now face a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment and/or fines up to Aus$60,000 [US$ 55,000] for companies, Argel said.

When there are aggravating circumstances such as slavery, forced labor or sexual servitude, the employers can be punished per worker exploited with a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and/or fines up to Aus$165,000 [US$150,000] for companies.

Lazaro urges Filipinos who wish to work in Australia to go through proper channels of employment such as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and not to attempt to bypass the legal process by entering Australia as tourists with the intent to gain employment hoping to obtain amnesty in the future. Michael Caber