New immigration anti-fraud initiative to target couples in Australia

by Ray Clancy on May 26, 2015

in Australia Immigration

Couples are to be targeted in the latest crackdown on immigration fraud in Australia, particularly those who have declared sponsorship for a partner visa.

A new data-matching program, which is a joint initiative between the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) and Human Services Department, will target welfare recipients.

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The spotlight will be on fake couples who are fraudulently claiming social security payments

The spotlight will be on fake couples who are fraudulently claiming social security payments or committing migration fraud, especially those on single payments but have declared sponsorship of a partner for immigration purposes.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the joint operation will enable the department to identify people suspected of being involved in migration fraud through the partner visa program.

‘Last year we identified an increase in the number of allegations relating to the facilitating of contrived marriages. This data-matching program is part of a whole government approach to fraud detection and prevention. People who deliberately take advantage of Australia’s welfare and migration system will be caught,’ he explained.

‘If a member of the community suspects that a person is unlawfully in Australia, committing migration fraud, or working in breach of their visa conditions, then they should contact the immigration department,’ he pointed out.

‘The consequences are serious. People may be forced to repay the benefits they were not entitled to, have their visa application refused, or face criminal charges,’ he added.

Home Services Minister Marise Payne said the program may also identify people who are fraudulently claiming higher-paying welfare payments for singles, when they are a member of a couple.

‘The Government is committed to protecting taxpayers’ money and the integrity of Australia’s social security system by ensuring people receive the right payment at the right time. People who receive a Centrelink payment and deliberately fail to declare their correct relationship status to the Department of Human Services are breaking the law,’ she explained.

Shen pointed out that in the last financial year, data-matching activities conducted by her department returned $132.7 million in net benefits to government. ‘This program is a win-win for taxpayers as it strengthens our ability to prevent, detect and investigate fraud matters which impact both departments,’ she added.

The partner visa data-matching program will begin in the middle of 2015 and initially run for a year, conducted in line with privacy legislation and guidelines set by the Privacy Commissioner. Suspected welfare or migration fraud will be investigated by the relevant departments.

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