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Parliament overturns 10-year visa ban rule

The Department of Immigration has received a rush of applications for Australian citizenship this week. Source: AAP

The regulations meant anyone who submitted incorrect information as part of an Australian visa application could be effectively barred from reapplying for a decade.

Migration laws that gave power to the Immigration Department to lock people out of Australia’s visa system for ten years even if they inadvertently gave false or misleading information have been overturned by the Senate.

Under the migration regulations that came into effect on 18th November, any applicant found to be providing bogus documents or false or misleading information to the Immigration Department, Migration Review Tribunal or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, could face a ban of ten years under Public Interest Criterion (PIC) 4020, and was going be locked out of the visa process for ten years.

An application lodged since November 18 could be refused if fraud was detected in an earlier application made within the previous 10 years. 

This replaced a 12-month period that had applied to those who withdrew their application once notified of suspected fraud - a way to avoid a potential three-year ban if that visa was subsequently refused.

Nick Mckim
Greens Senator Nick McKim
AAP

This new rule was expanded in scope to apply to most temporary visas.

However, on Tuesday, Senate voted down the Immigration Department’s changes, overturning the whole instrument.

“Some of the powers that Peter Dutton wanted to give himself included the powers to cancel visas for something like speeding ticket... And those powers to be exercised not only without a conviction for the alleged offence but even without someone being charged,” said Greens Senator Nick McKim who introduced a motion in the Senate against the regulations.

He said the regulations gave “draconian powers” to the Immigration Department.

“The risk here was that the people who did nothing wrong, such as people who may have been represented by an incompetent migration agent or in fact who were defrauded by migration agents would risk being either detained or deported.

“The idea that someone could be sent to detention without charge, without trial for something as minor as a speeding offence is an outrageous breach of natural justice,” Senator McKim told SBS Punjabi.  

After the Greens senator introduced the motion in the upper house, support from Labor and Nick Xenophon scored a win for it by two votes.

The other changes introduced under the Migration Legislation Amendment (2017 Measures No 4) Regulations 2017 have also been overturned after Tuesday’s vote.  

Click on the player to listen to Greens Senator Nick McKim's interview. 

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