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Friday, August 26, 2011

Australia: Immigration targets unregistered migration advice syndicate

Perth, 25 Aug 2011

A criminal syndicate providing unregistered migration advice to foreign nationals has been shut down following a police operation in Perth early today.

The execution of the search warrants brings to a close a 12-month multi-jurisdictional investigation.

Prosecutions are now under consideration as the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) works with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to pursue further action.

“People who practise as unregistered migration agents in Australia are breaking the law and may be subject to fines of up to $6600 or imprisonment for up to 10 years,” a DIAC spokesman said.

The investigation involved DIAC officers with the assistance of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in which the scheme’s unregistered migration agents claimed to be able to arrange ‘working visas’ for non-citizens.

“Organisers were charging exorbitant fees for unregistered migration assistance, and were also lodging visa applications which contained false information relating to claims for asylum,” the spokesman said. “Over the past 12 months, DIAC has conducted a series of targeted operations in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia aimed at dismantling this syndicate.”

As a result of information obtained during recent operations, search warrants were executed by immigration investigators with the assistance of the AFP early today in Perth.

The operation follows the execution of warrants Sydney in July in which large numbers of visa applications were seized at the residence and office of the principal suspect of this investigation.

“The department has received outstanding support from the AFP, Victoria Police and other government agencies during this investigation which has demonstrated the whole-of-government resolve to protect the integrity of Australia’s migration programs,” the spokesman said. “In Australia there are strict rules about helping someone with their visa application.

“If you are a migration agent you must be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority [Office of the MARA],” he added.

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