On May 15, officers from the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) searched two residential properties in Daisy Hill and Logan Village, south of Brisbane, seizing a large amount of evidence including documentation regarding visa applications and dozens of electronic devices.
One man has been summoned to appear before Brisbane Magistrate’s Court on June 7 in relation to seven charges of submitting false information to the Department of Home Affairs.
The seized evidence is now being closely examined ahead of possible additional charges against further individuals suspected of systemic visa fraud.
It is alleged that at least 50 potential applicants were being charged significant amounts for sponsorship, in many cases well over $100,000. Requesting payment in exchange for visa sponsorship is an offence punishable by a two year prison sentence and/or a fine of $75,600 per offence.
ABF Investigations Commander, Graeme Grosse, said the execution of these search warrants was the culmination of an investigation that has been ongoing since 2017.
“The ABF has been closely investigating this matter for some time. We believe that one individual has been arranging the submission of false visa nominations and applications for various skilled visas subclasses,” Commander Grosse said.
The individual is alleged to have engaged with several complicit Registered Migration Agents to lodge applications with the Department of Home Affairs, sponsoring individuals for positions in businesses that do not exist.
“The ABF is alert to attempts to circumvent the integrity of Australia’s migration and visa system. We investigate all allegations of visa fraud, and actively monitor the visa grant process in order to detect improper conduct,” Commander Grosse said.
“We will not tolerate attempts to engage in fraudulent activity, and the Australian community can feel confident that we are doing everything possible to bring the full force of the law against anyone engaging in this type of unlawful activity and to maintain the integrity of the visa system.”
Several charges are possible, including under s234 of the Migration Act which relates to the provision of false documents or misleading information, and can attract up to ten years’ imprisonment per charge.
The role of the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) is to protect consumers of immigration assistance and support visa program integrity through the regulation of migration agents and in taking disciplinary action when breaches of the Code of Conduct are identified.
Registered migration agents found to be engaged in fraudulent activities which seek to abuse any process in connection with Australian migration law face disciplinary action by the OMARA including cancellation of their registration.
Anyone with information about possible visa fraud is encouraged to report it to ABF’s BorderWatch program by visiting www.Australia.gov.au/borderwatch. Information can be given anonymously.