22 July 2013

Visa Fraud Statistics

The ABC reports that "thousands of Indian students, skilled workers and 457 visa holders have been admitted to Australia on dodgy travel and work documents", with "out-of-control, large-scale fraud of the visa system".

Substantially redacted documents under FOI (eg here) indicate that internal audits by the Department of Immigration & Citizenship (DIAC) showed fraud rates from the 2008/09 financial year approached 50 per cent, with "longer term, robust biometric processes embedded in Indian identity documents and in DIAC systems [being] the only effective combatant". For a General Skilled Migration visa class, there was a 46.9% fraud rate for 23,767 visa lodgements in 2008/2009. The fraud rate was as high as 51.6% in the third quarter of the 2008/09 financial year. The DIAC documents show a 37% cent fraud rate from 41,636 lodgements for Indian student visas across the same period.

The Department indicates that
Around the periods of 2008, 2009, 2010 the fraud levels were quite considerable, a matter of real concern to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. We're quite confident that those people who were issued with a visa ... 99.9 per cent are who they say they are and are doing what they said they would do when they were granted that visa.
The ABC states that -
An Immigration Department eyes-only briefing from the New Delhi office, published in April 2011, bluntly describes its purpose is to "report on the ease with which identity fraud is possible in India".
The documents outline one alarming case where a man breached Australia's borders by entering the country under a false identity.
He had previously been detained and deported from Australia, and run up a debt with the Government.
He had also applied unsuccessfully for a protection visa, and had gone through all levels of appeal.
He was able to subvert the numerous visa checks by simply changing his birth date.
"During the interview, his wife admitted that he had lived in Australia, and he had withheld this information from the department," the documents said.
The man was eventually caught and re-deported, however the migration agent responsible for the fraudulent application was also living in Australia under a false identity.
The documents suggest that, in exchange for payment, the agent helped many others into Australia while avoiding detection.
As a sidelight on claims of identity crime it is disappointing to note that DIAC doesn't publish the 'released' documents on its site alongside its FOI Disclosure Log. Potential readers are instead expected to contact DIAC by email and request a copy. That contrasts with the practice of other Commonwealth entities that publish the documents on their sites. DIAC still hasn't quite embraced the spirit of the revised FOI legislation.