Irishman fined, deported over visa scam
by Pdraig Collins
The Irish Echo
Posted on 16 November 2009
AN Irishman was recently fined $1,400 and expelled from Australia after being convicted of immigration fraud.
The confirmation from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) followed a series of revelations in the Irish Echo of Working Holiday Visa (WHV) fraud among Irish backpackers.
Other Irish backpackers are under investigation for similar frauds, with one case already having been referred to the director of public prosecutions and 32 second working holiday visas being cancelled in NSW alone on the basis of fraudulent documentation.
The expelled man was convicted after admitting he bought employment verification details for a second-year WHV for $500. To get a second WHV backpackers must work for three months in agricultural or regional work during their first visa year. Typically this would involve fruit picking or working on a building site in a rural area.
But many, unwilling or unable to do the tough work required for the visa, have risked imprisonment for up to 10 years, and/or a fine of up to $110,000 by claiming they worked on a farm when they did not.
This work is proved through providing the Australian Business Number (ABN) of a farmer who has previously hired backpackers and saying you worked there too. This in turn led to a scam where people have been selling the ABNs of farmers for up to $500 each. This method has been advertised on backpacker websites such as Gumtree under headings such as 2nd year visa, no problem.
One Irish fraudster allegedly told clients who paid him $400 each for ABN details that DIAC checked only 10 per cent of second WHV applications.
Deidre Russack, director of the working holiday section of DIAC, told a backpacker conference that: Theres a lot of fraud theyre not working in regional areas Immigration is trying to do something about it Theres a lot of work going on in the department around this issue, she said.
The fraudulent behaviour among some backpackers has made big news in Ireland in recent weeks, with The Irish Times, the Wicklow People and both RT radio and television reporting on the scandal.
Of the 21,727 second WHVs granted in the year to June 30, 2009, a massive 4,425 were given to Irish people.
Only Koreans, with 6,079, got more than Irish people.