The purpose of this article is to teach you a lesson: do not blindly submit an application unless you are sure of its content.
Our agent was assisting a client who lodged an offshore Partner visa application. The visa applicant failed to disclose information regarding his previous travel. The application form contained the usual question asking whether the applicant had previously travelled to any country in the past 10 years. The applicant failed to disclose information to the effect that he had previously travelled to two countries. The question was answered by a ‘NO’. The application was then submitted. The visa applicant was then invited to comment on adverse information received in that he failed to disclose his previous travel history.
PIC 4020(1) provides that it is against public interest to submit fraudulent documents or misleading or false information in your visa application. If such information or documents were found in your application, you could risk visa refusal and possibly a 3-year ban from making another application, as per PIC 4020(2).
According to established principles, this requirement is directed at information which is false, in the sense of purposefully untrue, rather than information which lacks the necessary element of fraud or deception, for example, in the case of an innocent or unintended mistake. This means that there is a line drawn between purposeful falsity and innocent mistakes. This requirement extends to situations where a third party provides the fraudulent document or misleading information to the Department without the visa applicant’s knowledge or consent. It is no defence for the visa applicant to argue that “I was not aware that this document was fraudulent, or this piece of information is false”.
Are there any exceptions?
Luckily, there are! Australian migration laws PIC 4020(4) provide that the above requirement will be waived if the visa applicant can demonstrate that there are compelling circumstances that affect the interests of Australia; or compassionate or compelling circumstances that affect the interests of an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen.
This particular client was married to an Australian citizen. They have been married since February 2014. The visa applicant has previously been to Australia, having arrived as a boat arrival and then voluntarily returned to his home country. The relationship between the applicant and sponsor was genuine and continuing. Evidence to that effect was submitted to support their claims. There were almost 8 witnesses to this relationship, all of which have declared that their relationship was genuine and continuing. There was a substantial number of documents that were lodged to support this application.
Our agent was asked by the visa applicant to draft a response to this invitation. Our agent argued that compelling and compassionate circumstances exist that would affect the sponsor as an Australian citizen. It was argued that the sponsor cannot leave her life in Australia and her children and relocate to Lebanon. The sponsor had a stable job in Sydney and she is unable to leave her only source of income. The sponsor will find it hard to find a job in Lebanon. The sponsor’s children are not in a position to leave their education in Australia and live overseas. The sponsor’s children were financially and emotionally reliant on the sponsor. It was argued that the sponsor finds it extremely difficult if not impossible to reconcile how she might attempt to reunite with the applicant as well as continue to care for her children. It was further argued that if the visa application is refused, the visa applicant will be restricted from applying for 3 years, which means that the applicant and sponsor will have to wait another 3 years in order to be reunited. This continued separation will be a significant stressor in terms of their joint plans to have a family.
The above matters were found to fall within the exceptions, in that they were matters that would affect the interests of an Australian citizen. The result was that the requirements of PIC 4020(1) were waived.
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