Australia: New penalty system for visa payments now in effect

A new criminal and civil penalty regime that was anticipated to come into effect by May 30, 2016 has been introduced earlier than expected and now makes it illegal for a sponsor to be paid by visa applicants for certain immigration events. The laws have also led to changes in nomination and visa criteria to facilitate the practical effect of the new system.

Effective December 14, 2015, visa nominators and applicants must certify whether or not they have engaged in any of the prescribed illegal conduct in relation to each visa application.

Impacted Sponsor Types

Related regulations have been introduced to specify the types of sponsors and visas that are impacted by the new penalty system.

The new penalty system applies to the following sponsors:

  • Standard Business Sponsor
  • Long Stay Activity Sponsor
  • Training And Research Sponsor
  • Entertainment Sponsor
  • Superyacht Crew Sponsor
  • Exchange Sponsor
  • Religious Worker Sponsor
  • Sport Sponsor

The regulations also specify that fees paid to registered migration agents or other service professionals are generally exempt from these provisions provided the payment is for a reasonable amount.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Employers should contact their immigration professional if they wish to discuss the implications and penalties associated with the new law.