Visas & work rights

People seeking asylum have applied for Australian residency and are waiting
for their request to be processed.

In the meantime, many live in the community with the right to work and study.

People seeking asylum are typically on a Bridging Visa – a visa that creates a ‘bridge’ between the visa they arrived in the country with, and the one they are applying for. While they are waiting for their request to be processed, they are given a Bridging Visa, often A or E.

The duration of a Bridging Visa can vary. A Bridging Visa E will have an end date, after which it is generally renewed for a similar duration, with the same conditions, until the holder’s status is finalised.

Bridging Visas A or E may grant:

• Work and study rights
• Access to Medicare
• No access to public housing

Some people seeking asylum will have a visa in their passport, others a visa grant letter from the
Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Check below the different visas you can expect, and how to assess them for work rights.

Visa & work rights evidence - pdf

Many people seeking asylum are also issued with an ‘immicard‘, which is a small plastic card not unlike a driver’s license. An immicard is not a visa, it is a piece of photo identification and has no bearing on work rights, study rights or visa duration. However, it is the identification you need to enable you to do a VEVO Check (see below) for a person presenting for employment.

The best way to ensure a person seeking asylum has the right to work is to do a Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO). VEVO is a free online service that gives visa holders and registered Australian organisations access to visa entitlements and status information 24 hours a day. Your workplace can register online to request work entitlements and study entitlement checks. In order to request a VEVO, you will need an individual’s passport or immicard details, their full name, date of birth and country of origin. With these details in hand you can obtain a VEVO in a matter of seconds.

The ASRC Employment Program will check and confirm the work rights status of all candidates we send to employers for work.


The Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) test for residency is different from the immigration test. Asylum seekers are generally residents for tax purposes.

The main criteria is the intention to live in Australia. If someone has come to Australia intending to live here permanently the ATO will consider them a ‘resident’ from the date of arrival.

According to the ATO, behaviours, such as the following, may be considered.

  • The person is residing here with their family
  • They have assets such as a motor vehicle and a bank account in Australia
  • They have lived in Australia for a ‘considerable time’ (generally considered to be more than 6 months)
  • They intend to reside in Australia permanently

A Bridging Visa holder who intends to live permanently in Australia and can point to one or more of the above
points can claim to be a resident of Australia for tax purposes, on the relevant ATO forms.

Disclaimer: This information should not be regarded as professional advice. If you are unsure of your obligations
on these matters you should seek professional advice from an accountant or solicitor.