The new Australian online visa system makes it possible lodge, check the status and check visa entitlements online at any time through the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service. Visa holders no longer need a visa label attached to their passport to travel to or work in Australia.
"VEVO enables visa holders to view their visa details online," a Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) spokesman said. "The system is also for employers, who can use it to ensure their workers have the entitlement to work in Australia."
"VEVO represents a huge step forward. Visa labels attached to passports provide limited information about visa status and conditions that apply to the visa. Now, visa holders can find out all about their visa status and visa conditions at the click of a button."
VEVO is becoming more and more popular. At least 50,000 people log on monthly to look at their visa details. Fewer and fewer people need to personally visit a DIAC office to get their visa evidenced.
To take an example in July 2008, immigration staff in New South Wales checked 5500 working holiday visas. By the end of the year the monthly numbers were down to just a few hundred. 13 000 organisations are also using VEVO to check the entitlements of visa holders who are seeking to work or study while in Australia.
"It's crucial that employers know for certain their employees are entitled to work," the DIAC spokesman said."
There are severe penalties for employing or referring illegal workers; fines of up to $13 200 for individuals and/or two years' imprisonment per illegal worker. Companies also face fines of up to $66 000 per illegal worker.