Australia announced measures to tackle fraud and exploitation in its immigration program, particularly abuse of student and protection visas that Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil described as “serious and systemic.”
(Bloomberg) — Australia announced measures to tackle fraud and exploitation in its immigration program, particularly abuse of student and protection visas that Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil described as “serious and systemic.”
A new division focusing on immigration compliance will be created, with an additional A$50 million ($31.5 million) in funding provided, O’Neil said Wednesday in Canberra. Wider changes to the immigration system are also on the table, with a broad review to be delivered before the end of the year.
“This system has been used to perpetrate some of the worst crimes known to humanity — sexual slavery and human trafficking,” O’Neil told reporters. In a review of immigration fraud, also released Wednesday, former state Police Commissioner Christine Nixon called the abuses “grotesque.”
Since coming to power in May 2022, the Labor government has sought to retool Australia’s immigration program following a surge in post-pandemic migration that led to lengthy visa processing delays.
As part of the changes, the government will overhaul Australia’s system of migration agents, often used by potential migrants to navigate the country’s byzantine immigration system. A minority of agents abused the system, the government said.
O’Neil has commissioned a wider migration review that will be released by the end of 2023, while the government has already increased funding for visa processing to ease a growing backlog.
Australia’s current immigration system is “far too complex,” O’Neil said, adding that it had become “virtually unworkable” for average people and firms attempting to bring in skilled workers.
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.