Oz to get tough on fraudulent couples

Fake couples who are fraudulently claiming to be together for immigration purposes are under the Australian Government’s microscope thanks to a new data-matching programme.

Yesterday, the country’s Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, and the Minister for Human Services Senator, Marise Payne, announced that the programme will target welfare recipients who are on single payments but have declared sponsorship of a partner for immigration purposes.

Mr Dutton said the joint operation will enable the Department to identify people suspected of being involved in migration fraud through the partner visa programme.

“Last year, my Department identified an increase in the number of allegations relating to the facilitating of contrived marriages,” Mr Dutton explained. “This data-matching programme is part of a whole-of-government approach to fraud detection and prevention. People who deliberately take advantage of Australia’s welfare and migration system will be caught.”

Minister Payne said the programme may also identify people who are fraudulently claiming higher-paying welfare payments for singles, when they are a member of a couple.

“The Government is committed to protecting taxpayers’ money and the integrity of Australia’s social security system by ensuring people receive the right payment at the right time,” Minister Payne said.

The partner visa data-matching programme will begin in mid-2015 and initially run for a year, conducted in line with privacy legislation and guidelines set by the Privacy Commissioner. Suspected welfare or migration fraud will be investigated by the relevant Departments.

The Australian Partner Migration programme is open to married and de-facto couples who are in committed, genuine relationships with either an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident.

If a non-resident has been in a genuine relationship for three years or more, they may be granted a permanent visa. If not, they may be granted a temporary visa with which, after two years if the relationship is ongoing, they become eligible to apply for a permanent visa. They will need to have been (and be able to prove that they’ve been) in a committed relationship with their Australian partner for at least 12 months before being eligible to apply for this visa.