From June 2015, the Australian Federal government will be using new checking systems to target couples who enter into fake marriages in order to get Australian partner and spouse visas and subsequently live apart and claim two lots of welfare payments. The government has estimated that, even with costs taken into account, these new safeguards will save A$132.7 million a year. When the fake couples are found out by this cross-checking, not only will benefits cease immediately, the non-Australian citizen in the partnership will lose their status, be required to pay back all fraudulently obtained monies and will face criminal charges. Some couples remain living together but not in a committed relationship, hoping to defraud the system this way, but any ‘couples’ claiming double benefits will be weeded out by the new system which compares visa applications by would-be spouses and benefits claims.
Cross checking will also weed out criminals
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has taken the unprecedented step of sharing with the press the number of cancelled and refused visas in the period July 2014 to May this year – the figure stands at 450 cancellations and 100 refusals and he is on record as saying there will be firmer action taken in future to check whether people should or should not have a visa. This does not just apply to potential ‘fake’ couples; Mr Dutton told the press conference, ‘Since the first of January this year, nine people convicted of sexually based offences involving children have been removed from Australia. They join another six people removed from Australia who were convicted of rape, three convicted of armed robbery, two convicted of kidnapping and one murderer.’ He went on to say that he was well aware that the vast majority of people who wish to visit or permanently enter Australia are law abiding and honest, going on to become very valuable members of Australian society. However, the minority will not be tolerated and using the new data-matching programme now available to government departments, removing them from the country will be much easier.