07 May 2009

Racket providing false documents for Australian visa applications uncovered

An alleged illegally-working migration agent providing false documents for Australian visa applications was uncovered by the Australian government. The Immigration Minister Senator Chris Evans said today that several government departments joined forces to track down the source of the fake Australian visa applications to the Sydney office of a migration agent.

The agent has allegedly been providing Australian migrant-hopefuls with false documentation to support their Australian visa application for permanent Australian visas under the Skilled Stream categories.

Approximately 30 Australian visa applications have been picked out as being supported by fraudulent documentation as provided by this person, most of which were Chinese nationals looking at emigrating to Australia permanently.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) were warned that these Australian visa applications were using false evidence to prove skills assessments for certain tradespeople, such as cooks, mechanics, and hairdressers, so that the applicants could get points towards their skilled migration visa application.

The Department has warned that penalties for such offences – if convicted – could carry a ten-year imprisonment sentence.

"Illegal activity by migration agents attacks the heart of Australia's visa programs and will not be tolerated. This operation is further evidence of the government’s resolve to target migration fraud," Senator Evans said.

"People who obtain permanent visas for Australia based on falsified documentation can have their visas cancelled."

From 1 July this year, the Government will be taking over as the migration agents' arbiter by opening a new Office of Migration Agents Registration Authority.  Currently, the Migration Institute of Australia (MIA) have the responsibility of monitoring the migration industry and incumbent agents, but after a review the government found that potential conflicts of interest could be avoided if the onus was taken from the agents and given to the government.

"The will new authority will provide greater confidence to the consumers of migration advice services and remove concerns about potential conflicts of interest," Senator Evans said.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their Australian visa application.

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