The Australian government has announced that it is now a criminal offence for a sponsor to be paid by a visa applicant in return for securing a migration outcome.
The new law has been introduced following a comprehensive, independent review of the integrity of the subclass 457 temporary worker programme.
“The review recommended the introduction of a new penalty making it unlawful for sponsors to receive payment in return for sponsoring a 457 visa and we unreservedly supported this important integrity measure,” Said Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Michaelia Cash.
“The Migration Amendment (Charging for a Migration Outcome) Bill 2015 implements this recommendation and expands the application beyond the 457 visa programme to other temporary and permanent work visas.
“Unlawful arrangements whereby payment, inducements or other incentives are promised or exchanged to try and achieve a migration outcome will not be tolerated by this Government.”
The practice of giving or receiving a benefit in return for visa sponsorship can have serious detrimental effects including possible exploitation, undermining of Australian pay and conditions and can damage the integrity of Australia’s migration programmes.
Minister Cash said the legislation introduced today sends a very clear message to those who are tempted to engage in this type of activity.
“Those who think they can get away with this kind of behaviour take note – we will target you and we will bring you to justice,” she said.
There will be a framework for criminal, civil and administrative sanctions against sponsors who actively ‘sell’ sponsorships, or seek to obtain an undue advantage in return for sponsoring a person.
The Bill also introduces a new discretionary power to allow for cancellation of a visa where the visa holder has engaged in ‘payment for visa activity.
Minister Cash said the new penalties will further strengthen the integrity of Australia’s migration programme, building on a number of initiatives announced over the past two years.