31 January 2012

Foreign nationals clog up Australian immigration system with appeals

While asylum seekers arriving by boat have dominated the Australian immigration issue in recent weeks, reports that migrants arriving in Australia by plane on tourist and student visas and then failing to leave when their visas expire are clogging up the immigration system with lengthy and costly appeals.

Australian immigration

Critics say the Australian immgiration authority is being clogged up with fraudulent and timewasting appeals.

Recent figures show that the number of people who overstay their Australian visa and then either falsify claims or simply exploit the appeal system to prolong their time in Australia is on the rise, leaving tribunal members frustrated and desperate for change.

The Refugee Review Tribunal, which handles plane arrivals reported a 30% increase to almost 3,000 appeals lodged compared to the previous year while the Migration Review Tribunal, which handles student, spouse, bridging and business visas, reported over 10,000 appeals: a 24% increase.

Claims made to appeal tribunals which have been labelled as 'blatantly fake' include claiming religious persecution as a Catholic, despite not knowing who the Pope is, pretending to be gay and claiming to be sought after by corrupt officials, gangs or ex-partners.

The surge in appeals has been blamed on a crackdown on student visas combined with the success rate of appeals; 41% of appeals to the Migration Review Tribunal and 24% to the Refugee Review Tribunal were successful last year. The rate of success has led to sharp criticism of the Australian immigration process.

"The whole system is totally farcical" said Adrienne Millbank, an associate researcher at Monash University. "It relies on the credibility of the story. If you were putting someone in prison on that sort of evidence everyone would be horrified."

A memo from the Australian Immigration department stated that "the increasing delays result in uncertainty for applicants and provide an incentive for others to misuse the review process to extend their stay in Australia".

With the Refugee Review Tribunal set to begin also accept claims for asylum from boat arrivals, critics have warned that the issue is not likely to abate unless a review of the system is undertaken.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their Australian visa application with the Australian High Commission

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