Illegal Merimbula workers caught in swoop of South Coast restaurants

Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney, where the workers were sent.

Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney, where the workers were sent.

Arrangements are being made for the removal of illegal workers, including two  in Merimbula during immigration compliance operations at restaurants on the NSW South Coast.

A dozen illegal workers were located in simultaneous operations at premises in Nowra (a Malaysian woman), Bega (a Chinese man and a Chinese woman), Moruya (a Malaysian man and a Chinese man), Narooma (a Malaysian man), Merimbula (a Malaysian man and a Chinese man), Ulladulla (two Malaysian men) and Warilla (a Taiwanese woman and a Malaysian woman).

Ten people were unlawful non-citizens with no valid visas; one Chinese woman from Bega held a student visa with work rights, but had her visa cancelled on Monday when she was found to not be attending her approved course of study; and a Malaysian man found in Narooma was on a current tourist visa with no work rights, which was also cancelled.

Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison  said the circumstances of their employment are being investigated, as it is believed that some of the businesses may be owned by the same operator.

 “Operations like these should serve as a warning to illegal workers and the employers who allow them to work illegally,” Minister Morrison said.

“Visits are regularly conducted across regional areas to ensure employees have valid visas with work rights and that employers know how to check the visa status of their workers.

 “We will be as tough on enforcing our immigration laws in the workplace as we are on our borders.”

All 12 of the illegal workers from last week’s operations have been detained and transferred to Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney, where they will be removed from Australia at the earliest opportunity.

Member for Eden-Monaro Peter Hendy applauded the immigration compliance team and reminded employers that they need to be aware of potential fines and liability for civil penalties if they employ, refer or contract non-citizens who do not have a valid visa for work.

“The department has a free online service for employers to check the visa details of non-citizens – the Visa Entitlement Verification Online [VEVO] tool, which is available on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website,” Dr Hendy said.

 Penalties for employers range from $3060 to $76,500 per illegal worker, while businesses convicted of knowingly or recklessly allowing or referring an illegal worker to work face fines of up to $20,400 and two years’ imprisonment.

Companies face fines of up to $102,000 per illegal worker.

People with information about illegal workers, visa over-stayers or businesses that hire illegal workers can call the Immigration Dob-in Line on 1800 009 623. 

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