It seems that the Australian Border Force and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) have been stepping up their efforts to ensure compliance by establishing additional measures and data matching programs.
Recently programs have been used for partner visa applications to hold sponsors accountable when claiming benefits from Centrelink. For sponsored workers, it has been well known that the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and the DIBP have had a close relationship.
These ties only seem to be getting closer with the ATO announcing a data matching program with the DIBP for the financial years from 2013 to 2017. The particulars that will be obtained include:
- Address history for visa applicants and sponsors
- Contact history for visa applicants and sponsors
- All visa grants
- Visa grant status by point in time
- Migration agents (visa application preparer who assisted or facilitated the processing of the visa)
- Address history for migration agents
- Contact history for migration agents
- All international travel movements undertaken by visa holders (arrivals and departures)
- Sponsor details (457 visa)
- Education providers (educational institution where the student visa holder intends to undertake their study)
- Visa subclass name.
The main purpose is of course to “ensure that taxpayers are correctly meeting their taxation obligations.” It is expected that sponsors who do not will be likely candidates for official monitoring from the DIBP. Migration agents are also under the spotlight with the prospect of financial auditing of tax returns according to the number of lodgement made.
Furthermore, even the local constabulary seems to be assisting the DIBP with detection of unlawful non-citizens and those in breach of their visa conditions. An innocuous traffic operation caught two foreign nationals, one whose visa was cancelled for working in breach of their visa conditions and was placed in immigration detention for removal, and the other who was presumably not holding a visa at all.
It goes to show that the DIBP is casting a wide net to uphold the integrity of Australia’s visa system.