Below are the questions most frequently asked by employers. 


Most people seeking asylum have work rights. Some have unlimited work rights, whereas others need to check their work rights status every 3 months.

The duration given to a Bridging Visa can vary between 3 to 12 months, but the visa will generally be renewed when it expires, with the same conditions, if the person seeking asylum has not yet had their claim for protection assessed. This can take several years in some cases. It is also worth remembering that the majority of people who seek protection are successful in their claim.

Many people seeking asylum speak good to excellent English. Some come from countries where English is the language spoken at school and in public institutions. Others are highly educated, with exposure to English language training at university. English proficiency levels vary and are unrelated to someone’s asylum seeker status.

Some people seeking asylum receive a basic living allowance from Centrelink, below the level provided to Australian citizens and permanent residents. Others do not receive any income or other support. All are highly motivated to work.

Asylum seekers on Bridging Visa E with work rights are theoretically eligible to receive Jobactive employment services as Stream A Volunteers for a period of six months. This should allow them to get a Job Seeker ID Number and basic resume, and to use self-help facilities for job search. Many struggle to access these services, however, or to get the specialised support they need to enter the Australian labour market for the first time.

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

  • 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)

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 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.


All asylum seekers are ‘genuine’ as anyone is allowed to ask for protection. There is no such thing as an ‘illegal’ asylum seeker.

Whether someone has a right to protection by Australia is a different issue. The decision made on someone’s refugee claim is a legal matter and is made by the Department of Immigration based on the strict criteria of the 1951 ‘Convention relating to the status of refugees’. Only the Department of Immigration can assess the ‘genuineness’ of someone’s claim.

No, many people arrive by plane and claim asylum once they are in Australia (‘onshore’). As long as they had papers on arrival, they do not go to detention and can live in the community, generally with full work rights.

Boat arrivals are subject to the most scrutinised security checks of all arrivals. The very act of arriving without documentation alerts authorities to undertake rigorous security checks. Historically, the number of ‘adverse security assessments’ issued for boat arrivals has been minuscule. More about this can be found under Myth Number 5 on the ASRC website.