Bill would criminalise receiving payment for visa outcomes

24 Sep 15

AUSTRALIA

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? The Australian Government has introduced a bill that would make it a criminal offence for visa sponsors to accept payments for the purpose of securing a migration outcome.

What does the change mean? The bill would punish sponsors who improperly accept or solicit payment with fines and up to two years’ imprisonment. Civil penalties may also apply, and the bill would give the Government new discretionary powers to cancel visas in cases where the law is violated.

  • Implementation time frame: The bill must be approved in Parliament before it takes effect.
  • Visas/permits affected: All temporary and permanent work visas, including Subclass 457 visas.
  • Who is affected: Employers sponsoring foreign nationals on Australian visas.
  • Business impact: The bill would introduce stiff penalties for companies and individual company officials who violate the law.

Background: In March, the Australian Government announced its support for a host of reforms to the 457 programme, including a proposal to establish “robust” penalties for sponsors who accept payments to help secure migration outcomes. The bill the Government introduced this month covers not just Subclass 457 visas, but all temporary and permanent work visas. It is designed to cut down on the exploitation of migrants and help ensure that the Australian labour market is not undercut by low wages. While the bill makes it clear that accepting payments for helping secure a migration outcome is not permitted, it does allow for “payment of a reasonable amount for a professional service” given to those applying for visas.

BAL Analysis: The Australian Government has gone about reforming the 457 programme in a way that is intended to make it easier for employers to find high-skilled foreign employees, while simultaneously cracking down on employers who abuse the programme. The recent bill is another sign of the Government’s effort to root out abuse in the 457 and other visa programmes.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact australia@balglobal.com.

MARN: 9683856

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