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  • Partner visas and welfare fraud

    Recently Immigration have announced a data-matching programme. It is to be used to target migration and social security fraud.
    The data-matching programme is expected to commence at some point in 2015.

    As part of the programme, Immigration will provide to the Department of Human Services (DHS) – Centrelink details about visa applicants and sponsors who lodged onshore partner visa applications in the years 2012-13 and 2013-14. In particular, Immigration and DHS will be looking to identify people who have declared themselves as ‘single’ to the DHS – Centrelink for the purposes of welfare payments, but who have also declared themselves as the sponsor in a partner visa application.

    People who may be affected are:

    1. Visa applicants suspected to be involved in migration fraud in the partner visa programme
    2. Centrelink customers who are failing to declare their correct relationship status to the DHS
    3. Facilitators / organisers / professionals involved in migration fraud using the partner visa programme as a pathway for their   clients to obtain permanent residency in Australia
    4. Vulnerable sponsors potentially being exploited
    5. Visa holders or applicants who are working in breach of their visa conditions.

    There can be serious consequences where a person is found to have committed fraud. You can be prosecuted and punished. Also, a person who has committed fraud might be not to meet Public Interest Criterion 4001 (the ‘character test’) or Public Interest Criterion 4020 (the ‘fraud criterion’). This can lead to the refusal of a visa application, a 3 year ban or the cancellation of an existing visa.

    If a person has had their visa refused or cancelled, or if they are found to have breached their visa conditions, this can adversely affect future visa applications. A person’s immigration history is increasingly becoming a major factor for the DIBP to consider in deciding whether to grant a visa.

    Fraudulent dealings with government departments, including the DIBP and the DHS, are also important considerations in later citizenship applications. A person with a history of dishonesty may be found not to be a person of ‘good character’ for the purposes of citizenship, even if they have never had a visa refused or cancelled.

    It is increasingly important that visa applicants be honest in their dealings with all government bodies, including the DIBP and the DHS, because the failure to do so can have far-reaching consequences. It is increasingly important to correct mistakes at an early stage.

    We have seen many cases where visa applicants were not honest, or made a mistake, but it could be fixed if it was not too late. This will not always be the case.

    If you are concerned that you may have provided false, misleading or inconsistent information a government body, you should seek professional help. At Brett Slater Solicitors we are experienced in assisting applicants who have health or character concerns in a visa or citizenship application. If you need more information, or if you need assistance or advice, please call us on 02 9299 5815 or email brettslatersolicitors@brettslater.com