Public interest criterion 4020 (“PIC 4020”) is particularly important for migration agents to understand. This visa criterion aims to prevent applicants providing false, misleading or fraudulent information in the process of applying for a visa. This does not necessarily have to be intentional; you could violate this criterion without meaning to. PIC 4020 can also impact the lodgement of future visa applications, so a risky move or a mistake may have serious, ongoing implications— whether you are an applicant or an agent.
What visas are affected?
PIC 4020 is a criterion which applies to most Australian visas including skilled, business, temporary, family and student visas. But it doesn’t just apply to the particular visa you are applying for at the time: it may apply in relation to a visa application or a visa that the applicant has held in the period of 12 months before the visa application is made.
What is false and misleading information?
If you submit information as part of a visa application, it will only be deemed false and misleading if it is false at the time it was given, and not if events transpire such that it later becomes false. It must also be information relevant to the making of the decision—whether or not the decision actually turns on that information.
Examples of false or misleading information include:
- False or inaccurate statements, such as falsified work references;
- Omission of facts, such as not disclosing that a sponsor for a work visa is a relative; or
- Supplying false statements or information when asked to clarify information or omitting relevant information in a way that misrepresents facts, such as deliberately answering questions from the Department of Home Affairs incorrectly.
What is a bogus document?
A bogus document is one which has been altered form the original issued version, fraudulent, or obtained under false pretences.
Examples of bogus documents may include:
- fake passports;
- fake birth certificates;
- doctored academic transcripts; or
- photo shopped images.
Not being able to provide sufficient, valid supporting documentation can be a reason for a refusal of the lodged visa.
There is an option for to apply for a waiver of this criterion, if you believe the applicant may not be able to satisfy the Department of you identity or if there have been ineligible documents submitted with their application. However, the Department will only grant a waiver in compelling or compassionate circumstances which affects Australian citizens or eligible New Zealanders.
A refusal under PIC 4020 grounds can have serious implications for the applicant and his family. If the visa is refused on these grounds, the applicant may be barred from re-entry to Australia on a visa for which PIC 4020 is a criterion for three years. If the applicant then fails to satisfy an officer of his identity, this may increase to ten years. What’s more, anyone listed as a member of the family unit may also be refused a visa. You as an agent may face these consequences if you submit bogus or misleading documents on behalf of the applicant to help his case.
If you need immigration advice and/or assistance, please ensure you speak to OMARA, or you can contact us with your query. At McKkrs, we provide CPD classes for RMAs and lawyers practicing migration law and would be happy to assist you where possible. Please contact us on (02) 4626 1002 or simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.