On 14 December 2015 new legislation was introduced addressing payment for visas activity through criminal, civil and administrative sanctions, and visa cancellation powers. Asking for, receiving, offering or providing a benefit in return for visa sponsorship or related employment is now illegal.
The payment for visas legislation applies to a range of temporary sponsored and permanent skilled employer nominated visas. It is unacceptable for sponsors, nominators, employers or third parties to make a personal gain through a payment for visa arrangement.
New criminal penalties of up to two years imprisonment and/or penalties of up to $324,000 for each instance apply to people requesting or receiving a benefit in return for a sponsorship event. Civil penalties of up to $216,000 may apply for people found to have offered or provided a benefit in return for a sponsorship event occurring. In addition to these penalties, if the people involved in this conduct hold a visa, either temporary or permanent, this may also be subject to cancellation. If visa applicants are involved, their applications can be refused.
Payment for visas undermines the integrity of skilled work programmes, which address genuine skill shortages in the Australia labour market by making employees available from overseas.
For more information about what constitutes payment for visas behaviour including the list of temporary sponsored and permanent skilled employer nominated visas affected, go to: www.border.gov.au/Trav/Work/Work-1.
If you have been a victim of, or are aware of payment for visas conduct, please report it to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection: http://www.border.gov.au/about/contact/report-suspicious-activities-behaviour.
Barnaby Joyce rejects Pauline Hanson’s call for ban on Muslims, says every religion has ‘ratbags’
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has rejected the policies of senator-elect Pauline Hanson and the One Nation party, after a Coalition backbencher suggested banning Muslim immigration from areas considered hotspots of “violent extremism”.
- Barnaby Joyce says many religions have “lunatic fringe”
- George Christensen says Muslim immigration ban from extremism hotspots could be good for national security
- Joyce “not into” banning people based on their beliefs
Mr Joyce criticised One Nation’s calls to ban Muslim immigration, saying: “What happens if we turn that on its head and start banning people because they’re Catholics or because they’re Protestants or because they’re Jewish?”
“I’m not into banning people on the premise of their belief. How they see their god is completely and utterly their personal reason,” Mr Joyce told Sky News.
He also said he was opposed to Ms Hanson’s calls for security cameras in mosques.
“If you can put them in mosques, then when I go to mass we’re going to have one in a Catholic church?” Mr Joyce said.
“Every group has their ratbags, even Catholics. We had, in the past, the IRA (Irish Republican Army) but if someone says every Catholic is a member of the IRA, I’d say no.
“They have nothing to do with the religion that I practise. Islam at the moment also has a lunatic fringe.”
Queensland MP George Christensen has defended Ms Hanson’s stance against Islam, saying it reflected the views of some voters who were concerned about terrorist attacks carried out by extremists.
While he said he did not agree with Ms Hanson’s policy of banning all Muslim immigration, he said a more targeted approach of stopping travel from extremist hotspots would be more measured.
“It worries them [voters], and I know that Pauline might for instance say the reaction to that is that we should ban Islamic immigration,” Mr Christensen said.
“I disagree with that, but that’s her right to actually suggest that.
“There could be a measured approach where we … ban immigration from countries where there is a high level of radicalism and violent extremism, and that would be taking the precautionary principle and putting that into play when it comes to national security.”
Ms Hanson’s views on Islam dominated ABC’s Q&A on Monday night, when she was asked to explain whether her “Islamophobia” was driven by ignorance or hate.
Ms Hanson said the community was concerned about terrorism.
“People in Australia are in fear because they can’t walk in the streets, they’re in fear of terrorism which is happening around the world. Why? Because of Islam. Because you have the radicalisation — radicalisation is actually happening in Australia,” she said.
Ms Hanson is pushing for a royal commission into Islam and a ban on new mosques in her return to politics.
Shortly after the election, Ms Hanson told reporters she wanted zero-net immigration, so the number of people coming into Australia equalled the number leaving.
Written by Editorial staff
Immigration minister Brendan O’Connor’s recent comments regarding 457 temporary skilled visas continue to raise criticism, with a number of industry groups slamming his remarks.
The politician claimed 10,000 people are rorting the 457 immigration visas system and confirmed he will be seeking new legislation to prevent abuses.
However, Australian Mines and Metals Association industry executive director Scott Barklamb said the figure seemed to have been “plucked out of thin air over the weekend”.
”The government is irresponsibly attempting to stir up a dog-whistling style, quasi-xenophobic campaign, out of all proportion and with no regard to Australia’s international reputation and regional standing as a destination of investment, employment and migration,” he told Canowindra News.
WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief James Pearson also criticised Mr O’Connor’s claim, adding that the immigration department had told the skilled migration advisory council that only between one and three per cent of visa holders were thought to be rorting the system.
Mr Pearson, who is a member of the skilled migration advisory council, was quoted by The West Australian as saying: “We must not tarnish a scheme that is working very well across the country when to date there has been little evidence of.
Minister Brendan O’Connor claims 10,000 people are scamming the 457 Visa system!
Wed 1st May 2013
Immigration minister Brendan O’Connor has claimed more than 10,000 people are scamming the 457 visas system, equal to approximately ten per cent of those in Australia using the scheme.
Mr O’Connor put a number to alleged rorters for the first time, having already reinforced the Gillard government’s intentions to reform the system after new Department of Immigration and Citizenship figures were released on Sunday (April 28th).
”Insofar as numbers, I believe that the areas where there’s been an illegitimate use of 457s numbers [is] not negligible,” he said. ”I would say it would exceed over 10,000.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reports the minister’s office was not able to say where the figure for alleged rorters had come from.
His comments have been slammed by industry experts, with Migration Alliance member and registered migration agent John Findlay describing the government’s position on 457s as “nonsense”.
“I find it outrageous that the minister for immigration can prattle on about ‘rorting the system’ of 457 visas, when it has been his Labor government that has facilitated the 457 visa for the last five years,” he said.
“All sponsorship and visa grants in that period have been according to law. And that law is embodied in regulations. These can easily be changed by minister’s fiat.”
The DIAC data showed growth in 457 immigration visa grants had actually slowed, but Mr O’Connor said demand was still strong and numbers were on the rise.
Overall, there was a 19 per cent increase of people in Australia on 457s at the end of March 2013 when compared with the same period the previous year.
Mr O’Connor pointed to the number of visas granted for the lowest-paid skilled jobs as “concerning”, claiming they had doubled since 2012.
“Locals should have the opportunity to get jobs first, with temporary skilled workers employed from overseas only as a last resort,” he said.
According to Mr O’Connor, he will be examining ways of closing loopholes in the system when parliament resumes in May.
However, the minister’s claim of 10,000 individuals taking advantage of 457s was also questioned by Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Anderson.
He was quoted by The West Australian as saying it was “exaggerated and inflammatory”, adding that it sounded like the figure had been “plucked from the air”.
- Created on Friday, 26 April 2013 06:49
Written by Editorial staff
Holders of immigration visas are to be examined by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), with a data-matching exercise expected to weed out potential fraud and other breaches.
The ATO said it will be provided with personal details across 27 different types of visa by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), including working holiday makers, skilled workers, students and diplomatic staff.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), previous data-matching programs revealed there was an “elevated level of risk” for temporary working visa holders in relation to non-compliance and fraud.
The scheme is aimed at ensuring Australians do not miss out on employment opportunities that have been given to people from overseas without the correct working rights.
Details collected “will be electronically matched and analysed with certain sections of ATO data holdings to identify potential fraud, and other non-compliance with lodgment and payment obligations under taxation law”, ATO stated.
Information will include place of study for student visa holders, details of immigration agents, overseas travel movements, and whether immigration visas remain valid.
The program will check that tax returns and business activity statements are being correctly completed by company sponsors and the visa holders, indicating they are meeting obligations set out in the visa conditions.
The 27 visa subclasses are: 406, 410, 411, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 423, 424, 426, 427, 428, 442, 457, 462, 570, 571, 572, 573, 574, 575, 576 and 580.
People found to be breaching conditions will be sent a letter and given 28 days to resolve any discrepancies – after which the ATO will take administrative action.
The agency said it will be sharing any information regarding visa holders not following the rules with the DIAC, which could result in visa cancellation and removal from Australia.
The SMH noted that the ATO has requested an extension to deadlines that force all personal information not leading to a match being destroyed after 90 days, in accordance with guidelines set out by the Australian Information Commissioner.
The tax office said this is due to some visa subclasses spanning many tax years, arguing that it should be able to hold onto the data for up to three years.
Holders of 457 temporary skilled immigration visas have particularly been in the spotlight recently, with the Gillard government announcing it will be making reforms to the system to prevent alleged rorting by employers.
However, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group Innes Willox said: “This debate should be paused to allow some facts to be injected. No systemic rorting of the system has been uncovered.”
- Created on Monday, 22 April 2013 03:48
People applying for immigration visas could be set for enhanced health examinations due to a new partnership between New Zealand and Australia.
The two countries agreed to align the management of an overseas network of panel physicians – doctors and radiologists who are involved in medical checks on visa applicants.
According to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), the deal would ensure the nations can jointly manage and co-ordinate these panel networks in a manner that would benefit both NZ and Australia.
Among the benefits listed by the DIAC were:
· expansion of screening and treatments for tuberculosis
· improved customer service
· more robust auditing and analysis processes
· cost savings
· better targeted communication, performance management, administration and training for a single panel physician network
The DIAC also stated that the agreement would help progression towards the Five Country Conference aims, specifically the achievement of a more streamlined and well-promoted health protection system through shared management.
The announcement was made in a joint statement by head of Immigration New Zealand (INZ) Nigel Bickle and Martin Bowles, secretary of the DIAC.
Mr Bickle claimed the two departments agreed to move ahead with the network integration over the course of three phases – starting on Friday (April 19) – with full implementation expected by July next year.
Mr Bowles added that the partnership would also enable the INZ to speed up its electronic processing of immigration health examinations, while also supporting the general alignment of the two countries’ medical policies and structures.
The news comes after recent DIAC statistics revealed there were currently more than 600,000 New Zealanders living in Australia on temporary visas.
This is representative of almost one-third of the NZ population, with better employment opportunities and economic conditions in Australia listed as a primary factor for the influx of visitors.