It is now a criminal offence to pay for 457 sponsorships!

Recent legislative changes introduced through the Parliament now make it a criminal offence for a sponsor to be paid by a visa applicant for a 457 visa sponsorship.

criminalThe change to the legislation was introduced as a recommendation of the recently concluded independent review of the integrity of the subclass 457 programme. The government  was very keen to adopt this measure due to the widespread nature of fraudulent applications.

The Migration Amendment (Charging for a Migration Outcome) Bill 2015 implements this recommendation and expands the application beyond the 457 visa programme to other temporary and permanent work visas.’

The permanent resident visas under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) and Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) are likely to be drawn into the scope of this legislative crackdown.

PLEASE NOTE THAT IF YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS ABOUT EXPOSURE TO POSSIBLE SANCTIONS, INVESTIGATION OR VISA CANCELLATION CONTACT US FOR A STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION.


Senator Michaella Cash stated in relation to this change, ‘Unlawful arrangements whereby payment, inducements or other incentives are promised or exchanged to try and achieve a migration outcome will not be tolerated by this Government.’

She went on to state that the practice of giving or receiving a benefit in return for visa sponsorship can have serious detrimental effects including possible exploitation, undermining of Australian pay and conditions and can damage the integrity of Australia’s migration programmes.

There will be a framework for criminal, civil and administrative sanctions against sponsors who actively ‘sell’ sponsorships, or seek to obtain an undue advantage in return for sponsoring a person.

The Bill also introduces a new discretionary power to allow for cancellation of a visa where the visa holder has engaged in ‘payment for visas’ activity.

Minister Cash said the new penalties will further strengthen the integrity of Australia’s migration programme, building on a number of initiatives announced over the past two years.​​​

 

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Delays in 457 visa processing




Delays in 457 visa processing are being experienced, according to industry analysts.

Delays in 457 visa processing are a result of combined factors of changes to 457 visa program and internal reorganisation. The Department is restructuring in readiness for the abolition of the 457 visa to be replaced by the short term and medium term visa streams.

Changes to temporary work visas, culminating in March 2018 winding down of 457 visa are a result of 457 Integrity Reviews. This has further resulted in strengthening of requirements around evidence and documentation.

Delays can be extended if documentation and supporting material provided with your application is incomplete.

In a more general shift in attitude, departmental case officers are increasingly refusing applications, either at nomination or standard business sponsorship stage, where incomplete or inaccurate supporting documents are supplied.

Applicants for Standard Business Sponsorship, 457 nomination and 457 visa applications are encouraged to ensure applications are decision ready at time of lodging.

In other cases where complete applications are lodged. You can also make a formal request to prioritise processing. Requests are often rejected where little or no supporting material of business case is supplied.

If you need to make a request for priority processing, be as exhaustive with supporting documentation as you can.




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Where can I check for current Skills in Demand across all Australian states and territories?

LMIPThe Commonwealth Government has recently implemented its Labour Market Information Portal (LMIP).

As a work in progress, the information portal is still being consolidated with latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data and should be fully operational by late March 2014.

The primary objective of the LMIP is to improve reporting on skills shortage by industry and geographical areas across all Australian states and territories.

This is highly beneficial for Skilled visa applicants seeking both work and sponsorship opportunities under ENS or state and territory nomination programs.

The LMIP is to be updated on a monthly basis with the latest ABS data.

Industry and Occupation data is to be updated in late March 2014 and thereafter on a quarterly basis.

The Australian Department of Employment has also replaced its earlier static maps with Google interactive maps, greatly enhancing usability of the site.

Specific queries on seeking latest data and data search functions can be answered via at lmip@deewr.gov.au.

 

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Beware ‘bogus documentation’ when applying for a visa to travel to or remain in Australia (Part 2)

HOW DO DEPARTMENT OF IMMIGRATION AND BORDER PROTECTION CASE OFFICERS ASSESS FOR BOGUS DOCUMENTS?

cancelAs Mentioned in Part 1 of this series, heavy penalties are now being introduced by DIBP for people found to have submitted — knowingly or otherwise — false or misleading documents or proven to have filled in forms with incorrect information. PIC 4020 rules now allow for restrictions on making further visa applications of up to 10 years to be applied to individuals caught out submitting false or fraudulent — and in some cases just plain wrong — information and documentation.

The following are insights into how departmental case officers assess documents and information for falseness.

Documents such as Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) and Statutory Declarations are used extensively in partner visa applications in particular. These are legal documents so they need to be treated carefully and with a view to ensuring that no false or misleading information is contained within. Signatures are rigorously checked by assessing officers and cross matched with databases within the DIBP and in some cases cross departmental databases in Australia and overseas.

Forms are also checked for how many different hands have written information into individual questions. Recurring signatories are flagged for further investigation and could be the trigger for an eventual refusal.

Registraiton of notaries are also checked for current status ‘at time of application’. Unregistered notaries, agents or service providers, such as Marriage Celebrants, could render the document INVALID.

Be sure to check the current state of registration of any service provider you engage for your visa application.

If unsure, as always, seek professional migration advice from a MARA registered migration agent.

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Beware of ‘bogus documentation’ when applying for a visa to travel to or remain in Australia (Part 1)

HOW DO DEPARTMENT OF IMMIGRATION AND BORDER PROTECTION CASE OFFICERS ASSESS FOR BOGUS DOCUMENTS?

cancelBogus documentation is dealt with in s97 of the Migration Act (1954). Bogus documents are defined as being false in a material particular, which basically means documentation that is telling a lie or hiding the truth.

The Act defines a bogus document thus

‘in relation to a person, means a document that the Minister reasonably suspects is a document that:

(a) purports to have been, but was not, issued in respect of the person; or

(b) is counterfeit or has been altered by a person who does not have authority to do so; or

(c) was obtained because of a false or misleading statement, whether or not made knowingly’

The Australian government is presently stepping up efforts to crackdown on all types of migration fraud, such as fake passports and personal identification documents. Cutting edge fraud detection technology and data matching across government departments and with international agencies is further assisting the Department with this aim of reducing, if not eliminating, all forms of migration fraud.

Aside from measures to detect fraudulent visa applications, the Australian government also announced recently the increase in penalties for persons found to be submitting bogus documentation (under the PIC 4020 rule) to dis-allow an individual from applying for another substantive visa for 10 years.

It is also important to note, that ignorance is no protection under the law.

Whether you knowingly or unwittingly submitted information or documents that were false, you can still be liable for this 10 year exclusion penalty.

It is therefore CRITICAL that when you are making application for an Australian visa that all documents (including questions you answer on application forms) submitted to the Department in support of applications are true, genuine and accurate.

If you are not sure, consult a professional migration agent or lawyer.

The following are some simple insights into the way DIBP officers deal with supporting documents and evidence when reviewing your application.

NOTE: Recent MSI (Migration Series Instruction) 292 states that there is no power in migration legislation to refuse an application because the applicant ‘may not be who they say they are or may have presented a bogus document’.

1. Rules in preparing and handling official documents – Birth, Death, Marriage Divorce Certificates – There are local ideosyncrasies and peculiarities with uch official documents. When submitting your application it will help to point this out and explain the differences that may exist. This will help to remove doubts about authenticity of documents and avoid suspicion that you are giving ‘a bogus document’.

Think of other corroborating evidence such as baptismal certificates, local religious or government registries. Be aware that the Department is aware that corruption is a problem in many local official offices. There are limits upon case officers over how deeply they can delve into your past, so if you feel the Department is breaching your privacy rights, consult a legal professional.

Like with any type of visa application, and more generally in your dealings with the Department, it is important to think outside the box and to try to pre-empt the moves of the case officer before they make a decision not favorable to you. It is a good idea to consult with a good migration agent or lawyer on this point if you do not already have an appointed representative.

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