Irish deported from Australia
PDRAIG COLLINS in Sydney
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 13, 2010, 13:34
At least a dozen Irish nationals have been deported from Australia in the past two weeks in a crackdown on immigration fraud.
It is understood that most or all of them had acquired second year working holiday visas (WHV) for Australia by using fake details.
Those deported were detained in Sydney and Brisbane airports on returning from trips home to Ireland over Christmas.
Some were held overnight in the Villawood detention centre in western Sydney before being put on a plane the next day. Others were immediately put on the next available flight without being detained overnight.
In November, an Irish man was fined Aus$1,400 (890) and expelled from Australia after being convicted of immigration fraud. The crackdown since Christmas is the result of an investigation into other Irish backpackers suspected of similar frauds.
A spokesman for Australias Minister for Immigration, Chris Evans, said such fraud is a serious offence that will not be tolerated.
Temporary visa holders who acquire a visa fraudulently are liable for cancellation of their visa and removal from Australia and can also face criminal charges with jail terms of up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to $110,000, he said.
To get a second WHV, backpackers must work for three months in agricultural or regional work during their first visa year in Australia. Typically this would involve fruit picking or working on a building site in a rural area.
A scam used by some backpackers involved paying up to $500 for the business details of a farmer who had previously hired backpackers. The visa applicant then claimed they had worked on that farm too on the understanding that only one in 10 applications were closely scrutinised.
In the year to June 30th last, 4,425 Irish citizens obtained second year WHVs. Only Koreans were granted the visa extension more often.