All non-citizens must have a visa to enter and remain in Australia. The criteria for granting visas are designed to protect Australia and to select people whose travel is in Australia's interests. The Department’s compliance programme aims to ensure that non-citizens comply with immigration laws while in Australia. It is underpinned by the provision of guidance, education, assistance and transparent information to enable people to make informed decisions about their immigration status. This includes encouraging the voluntary departure of people who do not have a visa permitting them to stay. The vast majority of travellers to Australia comply with Australian visa requirements and laws. Non-citizens who do not comply with Australia’s immigration laws might be actively pursued through a range of measures such as location, detention and removal of unlawful non-citizens from Australia, or the enforcement of penalties and litigation, where necessary.

Visa holders

Non-citizens must comply with their visa conditions and be aware of the date that their visa ends. Visa holders are expected to either leave Australia or make a new visa application before their visa ends so they remain lawful. If a person’s visa ends while they are still in Australia they become an unlawful non-citizen.

Unlawful non-citizens must contact us straight away. People who voluntarily approach us can be referred to the Community Status Resolution Service (CSRS).

We regularly conduct compliance activities in the community to support the integrity of Australia’s migration and citizenship programmes.

Working legally in Australia

Some Australian visas do not allow non-citizens to work while in Australia. Other visas, such as working holiday and student visas, only allow a limited amount or type of work.

Visa holders need to know and understand the conditions of their visa including whether they have permission to work. People found to be working illegally can have their visa cancelled and risk being detained and removed from Australia. Employers can also be fined or face criminal charges if they wilfully engage illegal workers.

It’s easy to check visa details online at Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO). This is a free government service.

Information for businesses including guidelines for how and when to check if someone can work is available at Employing legal workers.

Illegal maritime arrivals

Australia does not provide permanent protection to people who arrive illegally by boat or air. Further information is available for illegal maritime arrivals (IMAs).

Voluntary returns

If you are thinking about returning home you might be eligible for some assistance to depart Australia. The type of assistance is based on your individual circumstances. More information about Voluntary returns is available.

Dob-in service

We encourage people to provide information to us relating to alleged illegal workers, immigration and citizenship offences and fraud using our Dob-in service.​​​


Success stories

Photograph of Malik Osman

​Malik Osman is a young man with an exciting future ahead. He runs his own successful design business, is an award winning filmmaker and works on new media youth products for the NSW Community Relations Commission. Malik's drive and determination comes from his and his family's early life as Somalian refugees.

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