Immigration Status

In the ACT it is against the law for someone to discriminate against you because of a characteristic that you have, or that someone thinks you have, in an area of public life such as employment, education, accommodation, provision of goods and services, clubs.

It is against the law for someone to discriminate against you because of your immigration status, including whether or not you are a refugee or asylum seeker, holding a visa, the visa that you are on or have previously held, or the way in which you arrived in Australia.

Examples of immigration status discrimination

A real estate agent refuses to lease properties to any person present in Australia on a visa.

The manager of a convenience store which sponsors temporary work visas has told staff on 457 visas that sponsorship will be withdrawn and they will have to leave Australia if they do not work more hours than they are being paid to work, or for less pay than comparable staff who are not on a visa.

A business refuses to employ someone because they are on a visa, but the visa itself does not restrict the person from lawfully working.

A bank requires proof of citizenship or permanent residency be provided before providing banking services to new migrants.

A local club refuses membership to people who are in Australia on a student or bridging visa.

A woman in Australia on a 457 working visa is sexually harassed by her employer, who threatens to dismiss her and tell the authorities that her visa is no longer valid because she is not working.

Are there any exceptions?

Statutory acts exception

Where a visa condition or Commonwealth restriction places conditions prohibiting the holder of a visa from working, it is not lawful to employ them and so would not be unlawful discrimination.


A person’s visa status may be taken into consideration if it is reasonable in the circumstances, having regard to any relevant factors.

Measures to achieve equality

It is not unlawful to take special measures to help groups or individuals who are disadvantaged or have been unfairly treated and need support to fully enjoy their human rights. For example, some disadvantaged groups experience greater social and economic disadvantage than other groups in society and may therefore require special assistance to enjoy their rights to the same level that other Australians enjoy those rights. An example of this might be support programs designed to help with refugee resettlement like accommodation services, tutoring, or driving lessons available through a migrant resource centre.

To find out more or make a complaint

For more information you can contact us.
To make a complaint please complete our complaint form.