15 March 2012

Australian immigration row centred on sea while air arrivals continue

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While the number of asylum seekers attempting to reach the country by boat continues to send the Australian immigration row spiralling into bitter feuds between deadlocked parties, the considerably higher number of asylum seekers arriving by air continues to go unnoticed.

Australian immigration

Asylum seekers continue to arrive by air while the boats continue to draw the headlines.

Over 6,000 asylum seekers arrived in Australia by plane in 2011 yet the ever worsening Australian immigration debate focuses almost solely on boat arrivals.

The largest proportion of arrivals by air came from China in 2011 and according to Patricia Cruise, a former immigration officer who review new arrivals' claims for asylum, fraudulent claims for asylum are just as rife as they are from boat arrivals:

"What distinguishes the Chinese case load is that [fraud] is endemic - it's the norm with [People's Republic of China] applications to have some fraudulent content and for there to be some dodgy practices along the way."

Chinese citizens reportedly enter the country with a valid tourist or student Australian visa and then claim asylum once in the country.

Ms Cruise claims dishonest migration agents in both China and Australia provide doctored forms and coach the asylum seekers to give rehearsed answers in order to have their applications granted.

"The migration agent might have a sort of pro-forma where specific details pertaining to the applicant are inserted - a sort of generic statement of claims," said Ms Cruise.

"I have seen statement where particulars have clearly been inserted so clearly some statements have been used more than once, just a simply bit of word processing."

The issue of boats arriving in Australia is widely considered to be one of the catalysts which led to a leadership crisis within the governing Labor Party. Reports of record numbers of arrivals as well as several cases of boats capsizing and asylum seekers drowning have dominated Australian news in recent months yet similar sized numbers arrive by plane and remain unnoticed by both the Australian public and politicians.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge their Australia visa applications with the Australian Embassy London.

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