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Family denied visa despite correcting wrong information

A family of three who believed they met the criteria for grant of a permanent visa have had their court appeal rejected for the simple fact that one of the documents in the original application was considered ‘purposely untrue’ and not an ‘innocent error’.

PIC 4020, also known as the “application integrity” criteria because it allows for a visa application to be refused upon the discovery of fraudulent documents in an application, was recently tested and upheld as a valid criteria by the Federal Court. However, while the court held that “it is not necessary to conclude that a visa applicant is aware that information is “purposely untrue” it noted that PIC 4020 is not directed to information or documents which are “innocent errors”.

PIC 4020 was aimed to close loopholes on dodgy documents and responses in visa applications, including the practice whereby applicants could go unpunished after the tactical withdrawal of a dodgy document. Since 2011, PIC 4020 has enabled refusal of a visa if an applicant provides a bogus document or information that is false or misleading in relation to their application.

The applicant in this matter, when queried by DIBP about the incorrect IELTs test certificates submitted with an application, admitted that it was incorrect. She claimed to have submitted it wrongly, due to misguidance by certain agents in India. In statements to the court, “She begged that she be forgiven,” and that in fact she subsequently achieved the required English outcome.

The DIBP, the MRT and the court rejected these arguments, which in the past may have carried some weight, The visa application was refused for herself, her husband and their son for a breach of regulation 886.22 4(d) which in essence states that at the time of decision, “No evidence has become available since the time of application that the information given or used…was false or misleading in a material particular.”

In what is believed to be the first ruling by the Full Federal Court, the court held that, “it should be accepted that PIC 4020 is directed to information or documents which are purposely untrue…the purpose of PIC 4020 was to render visa applicants ultimately responsible for the veracity of the information and documents supplied to support the application. Although the limited terms of the waiver (and therefore any discretion to excuse non-compliance) make it apparent that innocent errors are not the focus of attention.”

“It would be an intolerable burden on the administration of the visa system to require that those assessing visa applications not only discover that information or documents are false in a material particular, but also that the visa applicant who provided them knew them to be so. In many cases that would be impossible and would defeat the apparent intent of the provision.”

The judgement can be found here:

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  • Guest
    Wei Shu Wednesday, 30 April 2014

    I think it is a right decision not to grant her a PR, why she had provided the fake document at first place?

    Wei Shu

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