Almost 30,000 visas cancelled in Australia in first half of financial year

by Ray Clancy on May 9, 2017

in Australia Immigration

The number of visas being cancelled in Australia looks set to remain high with initial figures suggesting a tough stance continues.

In the first half of the current financial year the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has cancelled more than 27,000 visas.

This compares to just over 60,000 in the previous financial year, suggesting the crackdown announced then is set to continue, according to figures released by DIBP secretary Michael Pezzullo to a Senate estimates hearing.

He also informed the committee that the DIBP found close to 8,000 unlawful non-citizens including more than 1,000 illegal workers, most of whom voluntarily approached the department to resolve their visa status.

Between December 2014 and December 2016, the DIBP cancelled over 2,000 visas on the grounds of character and 820 applicants were refused visas on similar grounds. Around a quarter of visas cancelled are due to overstaying in the previous year and 7.7 million temporary visas were granted.

Pezzullo also explained that the DIBP is adopting more modern technologies to enhance efficiency without increasing the number of officers. ‘In the face of resource constraints and increasing border flows, investment in modernisation in crucial, this means increased automation, such as next generation of smart gates, harnessing new digital technologies to improve our client services, improving our abilities to collect and analyse big data to produce actionable intelligence,’ he said.

However, the DIBP has been criticised for being heavy handed when conducting searches of people at international airports. The document from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) says personnel have been unlawfully and inappropriately conducting personal searches and breaching coercive powers.

‘Some personal searches of passengers at international airports examined by the ANAO were unlawful or inappropriate, indicating weaknesses in the control framework,’ the report said.

It said that a significant amount of work needs to be done to provide assurances that these search powers, which include frisking at airport security gates, were being used appropriately.

The audit found a number of property searches exceeded the scope of warrants and officers routinely questioned people without documenting their legal authority to do so and it also found that officers were not provided with adequate instructions and guidance for exercising coercive powers.

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