Australia's Migration Review Tribunal (MRT) has said it has heard several cases of foreign students, typically from India, paying criminals thousands of dollars for fraudulent documents to support their Australia visa applications...read more.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said her government has begun drafting legislation to resume offshore processing of asylum seekers on Nauru and Papa New Guinea...read more.
An Australian immigration bill consisting of recommendations in Angus Houston's expert panel report has made it through the House of Representatives and will now head to the Senate...read more.
A new study published by a Perth university claims the 457 visa program, which allows skilled foreign citizens to live and work in Australia, does not hinder Australians' chances at gaining work...read more.
Foreign students turn to crime to bypass Australia visa checks
Foreign students are reportedly
paying for falsified evidence.
Australia's Migration Review Tribunal (MRT) has said it has heard several cases of foreign students, typically from India, paying criminals thousands of dollars for fraudulent documents to support their Australia visa applications.
The MRT said it had heard 15 cases of fraud allegations in the past year but the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) claims cases reaching the MRT are just the tip of the iceberg and that there are several hundred cases of such tampering with Australia visa applications.
The MRT said the most common form of the scam involved students paying as much as AU$3,500 (£2,350) for falsified employer references which claimed the applicant had completed 900 hours of unpaid work experience with them. The scam is often in the restaurant industry or other small businesses as the increased levels of independence mean fewer checks are carried out, allowing criminals to operate what officials called 'an organised and lucrative criminal enterprise'.
Carmine Amarante has been identified as the scheme's organiser and main beneficiary from the extortionate methods. Amarante is alleged to have created over 500 fraudulent documents which were used in hundreds of visa applications; charging as AU$3,500 per application and paying businesses as little as AU$300, Amarante is thought to have netted as much as AU$2 million (£1.3 million).
The man was jailed for three years.
David Young of the MRT said the Australian immigration system, which was 'designed to bring skilled individuals into Australia' was being shamelessly manipulated in 'a calculated fraud'.
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Labor prepare to legislate Australian immigration solution
Ms Gillard wants the asylum
seeker issue finally dealt with.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said her government has begun drafting legislation to resume offshore processing of asylum seekers on Nauru and Papa New Guinea.
The decision comes after Ms Gillard's expert panel, chaired by former Defence Chief Angus Houston delivered his report to the parliament yesterday. The panel made a total of 22 recommendations in total including portions from each of the three main parties' preferred options.
The panel's report looks set to put an end to a near year long debate over the issue which resulted in a political deadlock and the deaths of hundreds of asylum seekers. As processing in Nauru and Papa New Guinea was a Coalition policy, the opposition have declared the panel's recommendation as a victory, but Ms Gillard says the situation had dragged too long.
"I think Australians are sick at heart about watching it," said the prime minister.
"They're over it. I'm over it. We're all over it. I am prepared to further compromise from the government's position.
"I'm not going to play politics or look at political scoreboards when too many lives have been lost."
Ms Gillard said she hoped legislation would be finalised by the end of the week, opposition immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison said the Coalition would support Labor's legislation only after scrutiny.
"We can get on with this over the next few days as long as the government doesn't try to slip Malaysia through the back door," said Mr Morrison.
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Australian immigration asylum seeker bill passes House of Representatives
The bill will now be debated in
An Australian immigration bill consisting of recommendations in Angus Houston's expert panel report has made it through the House of Representatives and will now head to the Senate.
Mr Houston was appointed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to find a solution to the protracted debate over how best to deal with asylum seekers during the six week winter break.
After six weeks, the panel delivered a total of 22 recommendations which included allowing offshore processing in Nauru and Papa New Guinea (PNG). While debate over some of the other recommendations is likely to continue, the government has moved to implement processing on the Pacific Island nations.
A bill which would allow immediate processing in the two countries in temporary tents while the processing centres are reopened was approved by both the governing Labor and opposing Coalition politicians in the House with only Greens Representative Adam Bandt and independent Representative Andrew Wilkie.
The Greens are the only party to have opposed the panel's recommendations in line with their staunch opposition to offshore processing of any kind; Greens leader Christine Milne said her party was disappointed at the 'inhumane' proposal of keeping refugees in tents and Mr Bandt attempted to have an amendment added to the bill which would limit the time refugees could be kept on Nauru or PNG to a year.
The passing comes after three asylum seeker boats bound for Australia were reported to be in distress; the Australia navy conducted a search and rescue operation and escorted two of the three boats' passengers to the processing centre on Christmas Island.
The third has not been found and fears about the passengers' safety have been growing.
Ms Gillard said as the bill had been announced on Monday, the latest arrivals could be the first to be processed as part of the changes.
"If they get on a boat or if they stay where they are now, there is no difference except that you end up risking your life at sea and you give people smugglers your money," said the prime minister.
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Study claims Australia visa holders don't take work from Australians
ECU argues foreign labour is
necessary due the reluctance
of domestic labour to relocate.
A new study published by a Perth university claims the 457 visa program, which allows skilled foreign citizens to live and work in Australia, does not hinder Australians' chances at gaining work.
The School of Management at Edith Cowan University in Perth says the 457 visa program is essential to account for reluctances from Australian workers and skills gaps in the domestic labour market.
The majority of the debate surrounding the 457 visa debate is centred on the mining boom in Western Australia; thousands of workers are needed to ensure the continued progress on the multi-billion dollar projects.
Several workers' unions have argued that Australians should be considered for the work before foreign labour is allowed to be brought in. However, Dr Susanne Bahn, who led the research, says jobs are often made available to Australian citizens but many are reluctant to relocate to the west coast.
Dr Bahn said many workers' reluctance usually centres on family commitments, increased living costs and a comparatively low level of infrastructure in the sparsely populated state.
The study also argues that some 457 visa holders' skills would be impossible to find locally and leave foreign labour as the only option.
"This is the first study of its kind in Australia," said Dr Bahn, "and shows that although the resources industry often seeks to employ Australian workers, some of the skills required are so specialised that the skill set required is simply not available."
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- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau.
©Visa Bureau 2003-2013