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Last month the Federal Circuit Court of Australia ruled that information on a Facebook page does have an evidentiary value. The ruling came during an appeal by a Bangladeshi national whose visa application was refused due to “inconsistent” information on his Facebook account.
Experts have advised exercising caution can help while posting anything on social media.
Michael Arch has 29 years’ experience in the field of law. He is not surprised to see the outcome in the case of the Bangladeshi national whose protection visa application has been turned down due to inconsistency in the information in his visa application and his social media account.
In filing the protection visa application, the applicant told Immigration department that he converted to Christianity before he left Bangladesh, hence he faced risk to his safety on return to his home country. However, according to his Facebook profile, he was a Muslim.
Though he says it’s the first visa-related matter he is aware of where information on Facebook page has led to visa refusal, but according to him, courts have relied on information on social media in other cases.
“You have to be very careful about what you put on Facebook and social media these days. I am aware of cases where social media posts have been held in the court which played a part in determining the outcome of cases.”
Mr. Arch says the Department of Immigration is extra cautious in dealing with applications for the protection visas.
“The department is particularly difficult with protection visas. They look for any information that is contrary to what the applicant has supplied in the application and it is held against you," he says.
According to him, the Immigration department is very careful in dealing with partner visa applications as well.
“The other area that Immigration is very stern about is partner visas. The department is very vigilant in dealing with these cases, they are carrying out a thorough investigation. It is even bringing witnesses against applicants. Of course, they are doing their job, but the process is getting difficult.”
The Bangladeshi applicant, in his defence, had said that he did not use his Facebook page very regularly. However, he failed to get a reprieve from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Finally, the Federal Circuit Court , on the grounds that the applicant wasn’t given all the particulars of visa refusal, set aside the decision.
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