Payment for Visa Legislation
New criminal and civil penalties were introduced on the 14 December 2015 to combat visa fraud as part of the crackdown on activities surrounding payment of visas. Asking for, receiving, offering or providing a benefit in return for visa sponsorship or related employment is now illegal.
Allowing this type of conduct to continue would undermine the integrity of the skilled work programme which is designed to address genuine skilled shortages in the Australian Jobs market by making skilled labor available to Australian companies from outside Australia. As the Department of Immigration and Border Protection stated:
“It is not acceptable for sponsors, nominators, employers or other third parties to make a personal gain from their position in a payment for visas arrangement, nor is it acceptable for current or prospective visa holders to obtain permanent residence in Australia, or have the opportunity to work in Australia by providing a benefit to an employer for a job.”
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The overall aim of the legislation is to protect against the exploitation of workers and by reducing the incentives to participate in a payment for visa system. The would help ensure that there is a level playing field and that job vacancies are filled by genuine candidates based on their skills and not on who is willing to pay the most for employment.
A 'benefit' is defined to include a payment, the deduction of an amount, real or personal property, an advantage, a service or a gift e.g. salary deductions, inflated payments for goods or services and work undertaken by family for free or at below award rates,
The maximum civil penalty is $43,200 for an individual person and two years’ imprisonment while for businesses is $324,000 for each criminal conviction. Those involved also face having their visa cancelled or refused. Where the sponsorship is cancelled, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection may refuse any associated nominations and visa applications and cancel the visas of any sponsored visa holders.
To further strengthen the law, sponsors, nominators and visa applicants will be required to as part of the application process state whether or not they have actively participated in conduct that contravenes the new “payment for visas” law.