Many victims of trafficking in persons have entered or reside illegally in the country in which they are apprehended and are often in fear and/or at risk of deportation if they are found by government authorities. Indeed, exposure to immigration authorities is one weapon in the hands of traffickers to threaten and exploit their victims.

For these reasons, it is important that victims of trafficking in persons are provided with simple and accessible avenues to legalise their status temporarily or permanently. At a minimum, victims should be permitted to remain in the country lawfully while proceedings against their traffickers continue and until arrangements for their safe return are made. At best, victims of trafficking in persons should have opportunities to apply for long-term or permanent visas that allow them to remain in country to which they have travelled, should they so desire. Experience has shown that victims of trafficking in persons are unlikely to cooperate with government authorities if they are in fear of deportation. In turn, the easier and the more advantageous immigration regimes for victims of trafficking in persons are, the more likely victims will cooperate with government officials.

The following sections set out the relevant international law in relation to the status of victims of trafficking, the Australian Trafficking Visa Framework and the alternative avenues of protection available to foreign victims of trafficking or persons who fear being trafficked if returned to their country of origin.