The cleaning jobs, and permanent visas, that weren’t

The old adage: “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is” is about as accurate a statement as you can get with Australian immigration. Offers of an easy pathway to an Australian permanent visa should always be met with a high degree of scepticism and deep mistrust.

Australian media outlets have recently reported that an Australian company based in Melbourne had been found by the Federal Court that it was running a visa scam offering permanent visas to those who signed up to its cleaning course. This action was brought by the Competition and Consumer Commission for predominately misleading and deceptive conduct and breaches of the Australian Consumer Law. After the client has paid thousands of dollars in fees and completed the course, they were to be offered a role, in regional Australia, to then be nominated, and apply for a permanent subclass 187 visa under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.

Unfortunately, many, if not all, of the jobs and visas did not eventuate, leaving the business’s customers furious. As a registered migration agent, it is not hard to see why: there was no legislative basis for 187 visa to ever be granted as a cleaner. This is because even if there was a legitimate job, the various cleaning occupations are not on the necessary occupation list for this visa, as listed in the relevant instrument. Prior to this instrument coming into effect, any nomination for a 187 visa under the Direct Entry Scheme, which is what can be the assumed pathway for these clients, must have been for an occupation at a Skill Level of between 1 and 3. As cleaners are classified as Skill Level 5, this would not have qualified. Even the abattoir job mentioned in the article would not have qualified.

The penalties given were rightly severe. Not only was the company and its managing director fined over $1 million, but the company will be required to provide full refunds to all clients.

What is interesting is that this was a consumer law prosecution and did not relate to breaches of immigration law. Most likely this was because there was no migration advice given, nor was there a visa application lodged.