Public Interest Criterion (PIC) 4020 is the anti-fraud provision designed to make people think twice before putting any bogus (false) documents or false or misleading information into their Australian visa applications. Unfortunately, it also catches out many people who either simply made a mistake when providing information, or whose representatives were the ones who were trying to deceive the DIBP. The result of a PIC 4020 problem with an existing visa application or where the problem information or document was given in an application for a visa held in the last 12 months,can be visa refusal and a bar on grant of a new visa for 3 years.
Things just got even tougher. Shortly the DIBP will be imposing PIC 4020 refusals on new applications and 3 year bans on further visa grants in cases where it detects that information that was false or misleading in a material particular, or a document which was bogus, was given to the DIBP in any visa application made by the current applicant in the past 10 years.
What does this mean? It means that everyone had better hope that they or their representatives did a great job with the information and documents included in their past visa applications. It means sleepless nights for those wondering if the “harmless” lie they told, or the thing they didn’t tell but should have, back in their student visa application in 2009 is going to come back to bite them in their permanent residency partner visa in 2017.
It also means that before lodging any new applications, people should closely examine their old ones. This will probably see an explosion of applications under “Freedom of Information” (FOI) provisions, by applicants and their representatives seeking access to their old application files, to check on past documents and answers given in application forms. FOI application times which have already blown out by months, will become even longer.
The lengthening of PIC 4020’s reach into the immigration histories of applicants for Australian visas is just part of what we can expect to see in the strengthening of compliance measures designed to toughen up and tighten up access to both temporary and permanent residency visas to enter or live in Australia. Compliance is “the new black”, in Australian immigration applications.
If you need any general advice about avoiding PIC 4020 issues before making a visa application, or if you have received an invitation to comment on a potential PIC 4020 problem, contact us today.
Legal Practitioner NSW 55486