The changes to the migration regulations are being introduced by promulgating the Migration Legislation Amendment (2017 Measures No. 4) Regulations 2017, which will take effect on 18thNovember 2017.
Under the existing regulations, section 4020 of the Public Interest Criterion targets applicants who supply false documents or false and misleading information to the Australian Government in the last 12 months before an application is made.
However, this period is now being extended to ten years before making a visa application, effectively barring those applicants for ten years who have allegedly engaged in providing false information or visa fraud.
According to the Immigration Minister, the intention behind this amendment is to prevent applicants from circumventing the rules by way of withdrawing their applications “once notified by the Department of suspected fraud, only to re-attempt their visa application after the period of 12 months has elapsed.”
Under the new rules, any applicant who has provided bogus documentation or false or misleading information within the last ten years to the Immigration Department, Migration Review Tribunal or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, may be locked out of the visa process for ten years for their failure to meet the Public Interest Criterion.
The Immigration Department says visa applicants providing false information are likely to provide false and bogus information to other government departments as well. It says currently, such applicants are able to “actively wait out” the 12-month exclusion period and then immediately re-apply.
The Immigration Minister said a 10-year review period is a “necessary, reasonable and proportionate” measure to protect the integrity of the visa framework.
Migration agent Jujhar Bajwa says the new rule will have profound implications for many visa applicants.
“Many people knowingly provide false information. Earlier they were able to reapply after a one-year period. Now that’s being extended to ten years which effectively means they have been shut out of Australia,” Mr Bajwa tells SBS Punjabi.
He says many applicants inadvertently end up supplying wrong information which may have them banned now.
“You are asked if you were refused a visa before and if you go to a different migration agent and he ticks ‘no’ instead of ‘yes’- if you were actually refused a visa, your prospects of getting a visa for the next ten years are gone,” says Mr Bajwa.
The department says officers will have discretion to determine whether or not the visa applicant has deliberately submitted fraudulent documents and applicants who accidentally provide false or incorrect information will not be subject to refusal.
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