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Lives in limbo: the experiences of migrant workers navigating Australia’s unsettling migration system

Employee welfare Immigration Migrants Temporary migration Temporary visas Australia

This report draws upon over 700 surveys and 50 in-depth interviews with temporary visa holders revealing a broken migration system that sets workers up for exploitation and perpetual uncertainty.

Key findings:

  • 65% of temporary visa holders have experienced wage theft and 1-in-4 have additionally experienced other forms of labour exploitation
  • Extremely high levels of stress, the highest being amongst those on employer-sponsored visas
  • A link between workplace exploitation and temporary visa status whereby 91% of workers surveyed who experienced wage theft arrived on a visa with no pathway to permanent residency
  • On average, it takes workers 5.1 years to acquire PR with the longest wait time being 13 years
  • Loopholes in visa programs such as employer-sponsored visas which leave workers vulnerable to exploitative bosses and visa scams, and often tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket.


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