Anyone who submits false or misleading material as part of a visa application - even unwittingly - faces being effectively barred from making a new application for 10 years. The previous penalty was just 12 months.
The material targeted includes inaccurate statements, omissions of fact, or lodging bogus documents such as bank records, work experience claims or false English language proficiency scores.
“[It] would have quite a devastating impact on any migrant who breached their rule of perfection in any manner whatsoever,” said Mary Crock, an immigration law specialist at the University of Sydney.
“If you’re denied that long then it’s going to become impossible to come to the country.”
An application lodged since November 18 may now be refused if fraud was detected on any earlier application made within the previous 10 years.
This replaces a 12-month period that had applied to those who withdrew their application once notified of suspected fraud - a way to avoid a potential three-year ban if that visa was subsequently refused.
The measure covers a range of temporary visa classes, including student visas, family visas and skilled migration classes, as well as any applications made by members of a person’s family.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection said the longer time frame was designed to target fraudsters who actively “wait out” the year-long exclusion period before trying again.
Little room for error
The Greens will next week seek support to overturn the new measures in the Upper House, branding them another front in the Immigration Minister’s “relentless attack” on migrant groups including temporary visa holders.
“This is a punitive and vindictive proposal from Peter Dutton that really is cracking a walnut with a massive sledgehammer,” Senator Nick McKim told SBS News.
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