What we do?
Our Core Values
Migrants: Who are they?
than 175 million people, including migrant workers, refugees,
asylum-seekers, permanent immigrants and others, live and work in a
country other than that of their birth or citizenship. Many of them
are migrant workers. The term "migrant worker" has been defined by
the Migrant Workers Convention in article 2, paragraph 1, as:
"a person who is to be engaged or has been engaged in a remunerated
activity in a State of which he or she is not a national".
The Convention breaks new ground in defining those rights which
apply to certain categories of migrant workers and their families,
including: "frontier workers; seasonal workers; seafarers; workers
on offshore installations; itinerant workers; migrants employed for
a specific project; and self-employed workers".
2. How are migrant workers and their families protected under the
The Convention seeks to play a role in preventing and eliminating
the exploitation of all migrant workers and members of their
families throughout the entire migration process:
Preparing to migrate
When preparing to migrate, ideally, migrant workers should be able
to acquire a basic understanding of the language, culture, and
legal, social and political structures of the States to which they
are going. Article 37 of the Convention establishes the right of
migrant workers and members of their families who have the proper
documentation to be informed before their departure, or at the
latest at the time of their admission to the State of employment, of
all conditions applicable to their admission, as well as of the
requirements they must satisfy in the State of employment and the
authority to which they must address themselves for any modification
of those conditions.
Problems of adjustment
Migrant workers are especially vulnerable to racism, xenophobia and
discrimination. They are often the targets of suspicion or hostility
in the communities where they live and work. The deliberate
association of migration and migrants with criminality is an
especially dangerous trend, one which tacitly encourages and
condones xenophobic hostility and violence. Migrants themselves are
criminalized, most dramatically through widespread characterization
of irregular migrants as "illegal", implicitly placing them outside
the scope and protection of the rule of law.
Problems of adjustment were also addressed by the 168 States
participating at the World Conference against Racism, Racial
Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (Durban, South
Africa, 2001). In the Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by
the Conference, States are encouraged to engage in information
campaigns to ensure that the public receives accurate information
regarding migrants and migration issues, including the positive
contribution of migrants to the host society.
Also, migrant workers are known to have been excluded from the scope
of regulations covering working conditions, and to have been denied
the right to take part in trade union activities. Article 25 of the
Convention establishes that migrant workers shall enjoy treatment
not less favourable than that which applies to nationals of the
State of employment in respect of remuneration and other conditions
of work and terms of employment. A number of specific provisions of
the Convention guarantee regular or documented migrants the rights
to freedom of movement, to form associations and trade unions, and
to participate in public affairs.
Article 31 of the Convention requests States parties to ensure
respect for the cultural identity of migrant workers and members of
their families and shall not prevent them from maintaining their
cultural links with their State of origin.
Social and cultural handicaps
Living conditions for migrant workers are often unsatisfactory. They
face serious accommodation problems and although they contribute to
social security schemes, they and their families do not always enjoy
the same benefits and access to social services as nationals of the
host State. Article 27 of the Convention says that with respect to
social security, migrant workers and members of their families shall
enjoy the same treatment granted to nationals insofar as they fulfil
the requirements provided for by law. Article 28 grants the right to
receive any medical care that is urgently required for the
preservation of their life or avoidance of irreparable harm to their
Often, migrant workers leave their families in their State. Article
44 of the Convention says that States parties shall facilitate the
reunification of migrant workers who are documented with their
spouses or persons who have with the migrant worker a relationship
that produces effects equivalent to marriage. Also, when families
are remaining together, it has often been said that the children of
migrants - studying in a different language and adapting to a new
environment - cannot be expected to equal the performance of their
fellow pupils unless special measures are taken to overcome these
difficulties. On the other hand, fear of local parents that overall
educational standards will decline with the admission of migrant
children has become a sensitive issue in some States. The Convention
in article 30 establishes that each child of a migrant worker shall
have the basic right of access to education on the basis of equality
of treatment with nationals of the State concerned.
Arbitrary expulsion and voluntary return
International legal instruments establish protection for migrant
workers against arbitrary expulsion when, for example, an employment
contract ends. Articles 22 and 56 of the Convention prohibit
measures of collective expulsion and impose certain procedural steps
to be taken when issuing an expulsion decision. Migrant workers also
have the right to return if they so wish.
Irregular and clandestine migration/halting the traffic
Without status, the irregular migrant is a natural target of
exploitation, obliged to accept any kind of job and any working and
living conditions. Restrictive immigration policies often turn flows
of would-be migrants towards illegal channels.
The Convention seeks to put an end to the illegal or clandestine
recruitment and trafficking of migrant workers and to discourage the
employment of migrant workers in an irregular or undocumented
3. Are there other international mechanisms for the protection of
entry into force of the International Convention on the Protection
of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
will reinforce and complete a series of other provisions under the
main United Nations human rights treaties. Many of the provisions of
such treaties in fact provide for the protection of migrants.
Particularly relevant in this regard are the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Committees
monitoring the implementation of these treaties have on many
occasions expressed concern that often there is a failure to
implement their provisions without discrimination in respect to
Also, the ILO Migration for Employment Convention (Revised), 1949
(No. 97) and the ILO Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions)
Convention, 1975 (No. 143) contain provisions designed to protect
4. Where can I get more information on the rights of migrants?
The Fact Sheet on the Rights of Migrants, part of the human rights
Fact Sheet Series, is published by the Office of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva.
5. Where can I get help? (communication procedures)
The Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant
Workers and Members of Their Families provide for inter-state and
individual communications. Information on how to submit complaints
is available in our Communications/Complaints page. However, it
should be noted that inter-state and individual communications of
the Migrants Convention may be received only if they concern a State
party which has so recognized the competence of the Committee. The
inter-state and individual communication procedures require 10
declarations by States parties to enter into force. On 1 March 2004,
neither the inter-state nor the individual communication procedure
has entered into force.
Should I use a migration agent or a lawyer?
Both registered migration agents, and migration
trained to process visa
are also trained in general legal procedure, and therefore will have
more tools at their disposal for solving a client’s migration
matter. Lawyers are also bound by their own code of conduct, and
face harsh sanctions where this is breached.
Do I need to use an advisor at all?
in Australia enables anyone to complete and lodge their own
application. And many individuals do this and succeed. However,
migration law and policy is both complex and changing.
Migration agents and migration
with migration and
visa issues on a daily basis and are able to see quickly, the issues
relevant to an individual’s application.
agents and lawyers can
also advise the client on full range of
available to the client, as well as advise of any policy changes
current or pending which may impact the client’s application. These
matters will not always be apparent to the applicant working on
What do I need to get a visa?
A range of visa options
is available, each with their own requirements or primary criteria.
Below are examples of some of those criteria:
must be under 45 years of age, be tertiary qualified, and have good
Spouse visa applicants
must demonstrate that they have a genuine and ongoing spousal
relationship with their sponsoring spouse.
Student visa applicants
must demonstrate that they are genuine students, in order to meet
the primary criteria for that subclass. They must also be capable of
supporting themselves financially while they are in Australia
without resorting to employment.
Requirements will also vary according to an
applicant’s country of origin and family ties, as well as the
applicant’s intended length of stay in the country.
It should be noted that criteria in all visa
strict. If the applicant knows they do not satisfy the criteria for
a given visa
subclass, they should not apply for that subclass, as there
is no discretion for the decision-maker to make an exception.
What if my application is refused?
Where a visa
refused by the Department of Immigration, there are some rights of
appeal. Depending on the type of visa,
the applicant may be able to have their application reviewed in the
Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). If the Tribunal allows the
appeal, the applicant’s case is then remitted to the Department for
further consideration. It should be noted that a positive finding by
the Tribunal does not of itself mean the grant of the visa –
it merely requires the Department to reconsider its original
What are the limitations on my visa?
A visa will
often have conditions attached
to it. These may include restrictions on the right to work, to
study, or to receive social security benefits. The visa-applicant must
be sure they understand the conditions attached to their own visa.
Where conditions are breached, the visa-holder
may have their visa revoked,
or worse, face deportation.