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Applicants Beware: Do Not Allow Yourselves to Be Victimised by a Scam!

Heartbreaking. Simply heartbreaking.

There is no other way to describe the story of an applicant who had been “scammed” by an unscrupulous person, and whose ability to remain lawfully in Australia now appears to be completely ruined.

And the true shame of it is that the Australian government doesn’t seem to have taken any action to shut down the scammers (who are not, by the way, Registered Migration Agents).

The applicant’s story was that she had completed a master’s degree in accounting at the University of Technology, Sydney (“UTS”), after arriving in Australia from Iran on a student visa. 

Seemingly, the applicant’s successful completion of the course could have put her on a pathway to a “Temporary Graduate” – Subclass 485 visa.

However, this is what happened:

The scammers apparently promised the applicant that they would “find her  a job and get her a visa” – all for a fee of $35,000!

It sounds rotten from the outset, doesn’t it? An outrageously high fee  and a promise that on its face would seem unlikely to be kept. 

In any event, the scammers apparently submitted an application for approval of a nomination of an occupation for a 457 visa to the Department, as well as a related application for a 457 visa.  The nomination application was refused, and so too, consequently, was the related visa application.

The applicant was then “assured” by the scammers that they would put in a fresh application for approval of a nomination, and a fresh visa application. 

But apparently, the new visa application was never submitted to the Department.

The applicant made repeatedly calls to the scammers to try to find out what was happening with her visa status, but they were never answered.

The applicant recently made her own enquiries with the Department, which confirmed that her student visa had ceased at the end of December 2018, and that she had become an unlawful non-citizen.

When the applicant called me late last week, she sobbed throughout the call.

It would be understating my feelings for me to say that I felt absolutely terrible for her, it was heart-wrenching to hear her story.

But it doesn’t seem to me that she has any good alternatives. Any further application save for a partner visa or a protection visa would appear to be barred under section 48 of the Migration Act, so her only apparent recourse would be to go offshore and  apply for another visa.

The problem with that option is that it won’t help her to recoup the $35,000 she trustingly paid over to the scammers.  And it won’t enable her to remain lawfully onshore to continue her current employment (which she has apparently held under a Bridging Visa A, that presumably would have been granted in connection with her application for the 457 visa).

The worst of this in my opinion is that the people who scammed this applicant are working from the very same office address as one of the most notorious immigration fraudsters previously used.

And: when I checked their “website”, it contained links to registered migration agents  who, as far as I could tell, have no known relationship with the scammers. In other words, these scammers seem to be using the MARNs of legitimately registered agents to mislead clients and to “cover their tracks”.

To the best of my understanding, the Australian government has not taken any action to shut these scammers down  - in other words, prosecuting them for breaches of section s 280 and 281 of the Migration Act for giving immigration assistance without being a registered migration agent  and for charging fees without being registered migration agents.

So, as it stands, the situation appears to be that the scammers who victimized the person who called me had previously scammed and victimized others, and appear to be in a position to continue to scan other unsuspecting and vulnerable applicants.  

This surely appears to be an outrageous and  intolerable situation.

And it is a lesson to applicants that they cannot simply “turn over” their case to a person who claims to be able to provide immigration assistance, and then “trust” such persons to be guardians of their best interests. 

Rather, applicants must remain vigilant to monitor their own visa status, to be aware if and when an application is refused, and to insure that applications for review are timely filed. 

And it goes without saying: that once the government becomes aware of a “scammer”, it should do everything in its power to prosecute that person, and take steps to make sure that no one is ever victimized again!!!!

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