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