People stand outside a 7-Eleven convenience store outside the headquarters of Seven & I Holdings in Tokyo January 9, 2015. Reuters/Yuya Shino

Compensation for underpaid workers of 7-Eleven is hard to get if a visa amnesty is not allowed to the staff members of the Australian convenience stores, lawyers stated on Monday.

Early September, 7-Eleven Stores Pty Ltd. has appointed an independent investigation panel headed by former ACCC boss Allan Fels to look after the retail chain’s wage scandal. The convenience stores licensed by U.S.-based 7-Eleven Inc. is accused of underpaying foreign students and forcing them to work for longer hours without offering proper compensation.

Lawyer Giri Sivaraman from the legal firm Maurice Blackburn said that the staff members of the stores were on student or other visas and they are afraid of being banished if they revealed anything about the wrong done to them. Sivaraman also said that victims would require producing valid proof to prove themselves right. For this, the staff will have to gather evidences like time sheets, bank statements and rosters.

Gathering evidence, however, might portray them as violators of visa rules. “They don’t trust the company and are concerned they will be reported for working more than 20 hours a week when, in fact, they were often coerced into doing this,” the principal lawyer said as quoted by Reuters .

Approximately 100 complainants are represented by legal firm Maurice Blackburn, though the count might be far more including both former and current alleged victims of underpayment, a source with legal knowledge stated. Normally, a student visa does not allow an employer to make holders work for more than 20 hours a week.

7-Eleven did not respond when asked for comments on the statements made by the lawyer.

Chairman Russ Withers in early September said that the company would not hesitate in compensating for the affected staff members. “The bottom line is, what has happened with franchisees not meeting their employer obligations has happened on our watch, and we are going to make this right,” he said .

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