The contents of this article are correct as at 31 July 2013.
Public Interest Criteria ("PIC") 4020 was introduced in April 2011 to reduce the level of fraud found in visa applications, and originally only applied to General Skilled Migration and Employer Sponsored visa subclasses. It was then extended to Business Skills and Student Visa applications. From 1 July 2013, PIC 4020 now also applies to Family Visa applications including partner, parent and child visas. As PIC 4020 is assessed at time of decision, all applications not yet finalised at 1 July 2013, as well as any new applications made from 1 July 2013, will be subject to PIC 4020.
Public interest criteria (PIC) 4020, enables the Minister or his delegate, to refuse to grant a visa where a visa applicant:
“has given or caused to be given, to the Minister, an officer, the Migration Review Tribunal, a relevant assessing authority or a Medical Officer of the Commonwealth, a bogus document or information that is false or misleading in a material particular in relation to:
- The application for the visa; or
- A visa that the applicant held in the period of 12 months before the application was made.”
A visa applicant who is found to have provided false or misleading information as part of their current visa application, or a recently obtained visa, will have their application refused. In addition, they will be prevented for a three year period from making any further visa application for a visa which is subject to PIC 4020.
Applicants should be aware that the wording of the provision permits a visa application to be refused, even if the applicant did not knowingly provide the false or misleading information with their application. This goes a step further than the common meaning of fraud which requires a person to intend to provide the false information for personal gain. Applicants should therefore ensure they carefully review all information and documentation before it is submitted to the Department of Immigration, or any other organisation who is involved in the visa application process.
An exception to the three year bar on visa applications exists where a person can show that the grant of the visa is in the interests of Australia, or there are compelling and compassionate circumstances affecting the interests of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen. The decision to waive the application of PIC 4020 on these grounds is within the discretion of the case officer assessing the application and will depend on the particular circumstances of each case.
If you believe you may be at risk of having a visa application refused due to PIC 4020 or require assistance in seeking a waiver of PIC 4020, please feel free to contact us.