In plain English, what this is referring to is the situation where a person, or business, asks for a cash payment in return for sponsoring someone for a visa. It could also refer to situations where a visa holder is asked to repay salary or other money to the sponsor – be it in cash or through the books – in “reward” for the sponsorship. Or it could relate to a partner visa.
While ethical business owners would be horrified to think that such a situation could occur, there have unfortunately been times where a vulnerable would-be visa applicant falls prey to such requests from unscrupulous employers, and feels they are unable to secure a visa any other way. In some cases, tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars may change hands. The Department has, through various reviews, felt there is enough of a problem as to warrant a serious response.
If found guilty, criminal penalties of up to 2 years imprisonment or a fine of up to $64 000 for an individual or $324 000 for a body corporate, may apply.
Further, a visa applicant or other third party may also receive a civil penalty of up to $43 000 for an individual or $216 000 for a body corporate.
Plus, the Minister will have a discretionary power to cancel a visa where the holder was involved in such an activity.
The message is clear – visa grant must be based on genuine, ethical and legitimate grounds. No one should get a “kickback” for being involved in a visa. The only people who can legitimately receive money in relation to visa applications are the Department of Immigration – when a visa application charge is paid – and Registered Migration Agents and lawyers, who provide professional services to assist applicants to apply correctly.