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Australian Immigration Daily News

Breaking Australian immigration news brought to you by Migration Alliance and associated bloggers.

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Posted by on in General

Natalie O'Brien, a reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald has written a news story today.  She says "A blacklist of registered migration agents and lawyers the Department of Immigration tried to keep secret has been reproduced online, escalating calls for an inquiry and a possible class action against the department."

As migration agents would already be aware, Migration Alliance's Convenor, Accredited Specialist immigration lawyer, Christopher Levingston said that the creation and maintenance of what he called a "shi* list" of registered migration agents  "is a complete disgrace and shows the absolute contempt that the department has for the profession".

Mr Levingston said the department had acted deceitfully and in a manner that damaged the clients of agents because of some unspecified criteria. 

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Will the ‘budget neutral’ target lead to a doubling of visa application charges? It certainly looks set to increase and potentially by a great deal given that revenue collected is only about half of the cost of operations. The industry can only hope that with the expected cost increases, the efficiency, speed and quality of services of the department will also increase.

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) has commenced a review into Australia's border-related fees, charges and taxes (Fees Review) on behalf of the Immigration and Border Protection Portfolio, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Mr Scott Morrison said in a statement yesterday.

Outside the Australian Taxation Office the Immigration and Border Protection portfolio is the biggest ‘tax collector' in the country. Each year border agencies collect around $3 billion in revenue from border related fees and charges. This is in addition to the billions that are collected by border agencies in excises and other taxes according to Minister Morrison.

However operational costs run over $6 billion.

Minister Morrison said one of the aims of the review is to “ensure that wherever possible we recover the costs of facilitating the movement of goods and people, to avoid drawing further on the general taxpaying community.”

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An RMA and member of the Migration Alliance reports that there is a widespread scheme in China which systematically and blatantly rorts the sc457 visa system.

The RMA who makes regular trips to China says that, “Some offshore agents (not Australian RMA's) are advertising a service fee of RMB 1million (about AUD$180,000) to get a fake 457.” 

Apparently, the fraud involves the applicant providing to the employer the contract salary upfront. This is then recycled back to the visa holder after the grant of the visa in the form of wages.

 “It's going on in the major cities where Australia has consulates.  It's going on blatantly and yet it seems DIBP in China is asleep at the wheel…they can't seem to get out and make the most simple of checks. The damage being done to Australia's reputation is incalculable.  Decent agents who will not join in this scam are not respected, in fact, we are the brunt of jokes,“ reports the RMA.

This report, amongst others conflict with the ‘clean bill of health’ proclamation by the sc457 review committee and the Minister for immigration Mr Scott Morrison. The Minister said he is satisfied with the program on the basis that government's four-member panel for the sc457 Review found "no evidence to back the widespread rorting claims of the program made by the previous Labor government when they referred [to] 10,000 visa rorters".

Audits by the Fair Work Ombudsman have found up to 40 per cent of foreign workers employed under 457 visas were underpaid, not performing the jobs they were supposed to do or no longer employed by the person who sponsored their entry into Australia, a recent report in The Sydney Morning Herald noted.

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The Federal Court has thrown out a challenge by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) to measures introduced by the Abbott Government making it easier for foreign workers to be employed on offshore oil and gas projects, reports the ABC.

The action by the MUA was in response to Senator Michaelia Cash’s move which invalidated legislation deeming oil and gas projects to be within Australia’s migration zone. Senator  Cash said the controversial move was necessary to restore certainty to the $200 billion offshore oil and gas sector.

The MUA claimed in court the Federal Government did not have the power to use the legislative instrument in that way. However, the Federal Court has dismissed the legal challenge. It did not find the use of the legislative instrument invalid.

Speaking to the ABC, AMMA chief executive Steve Knott said the court case had been the latest attempt by maritime unions to gain control over an industry that historically operated outside their traditional coverage.

Mr Knott said the ruling gave certainty to both Australian and non-Australian workers in the offshore resource industry.

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Immigration blog

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