Australia’s migrant visa system cheated by sham marriages

The rorting of Australia’s immigration system is never-ending. Alongside widespread rorting of the ‘skilled’, student and working holiday maker programs, Australia’s partner visa scheme is also being gamed, according to a new report from Dr Bob Birrell at the Australia Population Research Institute (APRI):

In 2016-17 there were 47,825 partner visas issued and in 2017-18, 39,799. There were another 79,027 partner applications queued up as of June 2017.

The scale of these numbers can be appreciated by comparing them with the total number of marriages contracted in Australia in 2017. This was 112,000.

The reason why the number of partner visas dropped in 2017-18 is that the Department of Home Affairs took a harder line on assessing the bona fides of partner visa applications.

Why are the number of partner sponsors so high?

Here’s a couple of clues. Australia’s partner visa rules allow an Australian resident to sponsor a partner if just 18, unemployed, on a welfare benefit and still living at home. Eligible sponsors include former migrants who hold a permanent residence visa even if granted very recently, such as in 2019.

All that is required for a resident to sponsor someone on a partner visa is some (until recently) easily established evidence that the relationship between sponsor and prospective visa-holder is genuine.

Australia is alone amongst Western countries in maintaining such generous rules.

What about the willingness of persons to be sponsored for a partner visa?

There is a huge incentive for potential migrants to take up the offer of a partner visa.

There were 1.4 million persons in Australia as of June 2018 on a temporary entry visa (not counting New Zealanders) some 673,000 of whom were overseas students. Almost all are eligible for a prized permanent residence visa as a partner, if they can find a resident willing to sponsor them.

Why would prospective migrants want to pursue the partner visa option? As this report details, it is becoming increasingly difficult for a temporary resident to obtain a permanent-entry visa based on skill.

So, for the large number wanting a permanent residence visa, the partner visa is an attractive alternative option. There are no onerous English language standards or any need to find an employer. All that is required is that they be at least 18 years old and that they find a resident willing to sponsor them for a partner visa.

For prospective partners living in low income countries, an Australian partner visa offers the prospect of a huge life style gain with no entry cost, other than the visa fee.

Who is taking up the partner visa option?

Only a minority of partner visas are granted to those most casual observers think dominate the partner visa category, that is, people in relationships resulting from international travel and work. Where this does happen, some of the Australian partners move to the country of their new partner (usually the UK and the USA) and some of the partners move to Australia.

The majority of partner visas derive from two quite different pathways.

One is where a foreigner is in Australia on a temporary visa (usually a student visa) and finds an Australian resident willing to sponsor them for a partner visa. I label this ‘two step’ migration. The scale of the student uptake of partner visas alone, is enormous. Previously unpublished data released by Department of Home Affairs (DHA) shows that in 2016-17 some 11,048 former overseas students received a partner visa, as did 9,257 in 2017-18.

The other pathway is via chain migration links, that is, where an Australian resident (usually recently arrived and Asia-born) returns home to select a partner known to their family or community. At least a third of partner visas derive from this link.

These two routes are distinctive in that both are one way – to Australia – with little or no movement away from Australia.

Why worry? First, partner visa numbers already constitute 24.5 per cent of the permanent migration program. Since most partners locate in Sydney and Melbourne they add significantly to the migration burden in these two cities. Also, few have the job skills or English language capacity to thrive in the Australian job market.

Another reason is that the stock of Asia-born residents living in Australia is increasing rapidly thus providing a growing base for persons interested in returning home for a partner. So is the stock of temporary entrants in Australia interested in finding a resident willing to sponsor them for a partner visa. Thus the demand for partner visas is set to grow.

This is occurring in a context where DHA is under pressure from migrant communities, with the support of the Federal Labor opposition, to drop the recent tougher scrutiny of partner visa applications and turn the visa into an ‘on demand’ option. If this happens, the number of partner visas issued will escalate…

[Labor’s] position is suffused with a halo of entitlement. It ignores the evidence that I have presented, that most partner visas are being issued as part of a two-step and/or chain migration process. Because Australia’s rules on partner visas are so soft, indeed softer than in any other Western country, demand for the visa will continue at a high level. How could it be otherwise given the generous transfer of benefits from the Australian nation to the sponsored partners?..

Australia’s partner visa is long overdue for reform. A suite of proposals is offered, starting with a requirement that all those who wish to sponsor a partner establish that they are old enough (at least 21) and have the secure income and housing arrangements adequate to provide for the sponsored partner…

Proposals to strengthen Australian partner visa rules

Australia’s partner visa rules, as indicated, are the weakest in the developed world. Here’s a suite of reform proposals:

  • Raise the minimum age of partner sponsors and the sponsored partner to 21. Some might object, given that in Australia one can vote at age 18. However, being ready to vote at 18 is quite different from being able to provide for a partner at this age, especially if the sponsor has just finished school and has no reliable source of income.
  • Ensure that the sponsor can provide for the partner without imposing on the public purse. Require evidence that the sponsor has a secure annual income sufficient to provide for the partner, much as is the case across Europe and Canada. The amount required for a British sponsor (noted above) of around 18,000 pounds or $34,000 Australian could be a minimum starting point.
  • In order to ensure that the partner does not need public support in the first few years of residence here, the sponsor should provide an Assurance of Support covering any such expenditure, where it does arise.
  • Put in place a rule that, in return for the privilege of sponsoring a partner, the sponsor must show some attachment to Australia and some evidence that he or she is making a contribution to the Australian community. This, at a minimum, should require a period of residence of at least four years during which the sponsor proves that he or she has not been a burden on the public purse. I favour a requirement, as in the USA, that the privilege of partner sponsorship should be limited to Australian citizens. This currently requires a minimum of four years stay in Australia while holding a permanent residence visa.
  • Require proof that the sponsor and partner are in a genuine and continuing relationship both before the initial partner visa is issued and after two years of residence in Australia has elapsed. It was only during 2017-18 that DHA took this requirement seriously, hence the slow-down in partner visa processing at this time.

How many more examples do we need before our politicians take action and close down the various avenues to visa rorting?

Unconventional Economist

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

Comments

  1. reusachtigeMEMBER

    All marriages are shams because you spend your whole life battling against wanting to have multiple relations. Surely designed to destroy the human spirit.

    • Reusa
      For the first time, I’m with you mate.
      Maybe these relationships are better than normal marriages because they are upfront & honest that it’s a lie and a sham at the start instead of pretending

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      I’m sure that in the MGTOW handbook there’s a chapter devoted to the one true God, Reusachtige.

  2. the last option is a genuine marriage and that should be fine. The only problematic ones are fake marriages and the way to fix those would be to extend temporary partner visa ban prenups or introduce statutory minimum portion split after divorce
    that would scare many

  3. The recent tripling of the partner visa costs should be enough to understand this is about money and nothing else. I was born in Australia, my kids have citizenship, I’m not paying the ridiculous costs of a partner visa to move back there, it was much cheaper for me to become naturalized and stay where I am (Canada).

    Why someone who is not a citizen can sponsor a new partner is beyond me, if the partner wasn’t on the permanent residence application then I agree, get your citizenship and build roots first.

  4. Australia and her white European heritage is rapidly going into the sunset. We will be like Brazil.

    I have no answer to this and it will get worse. Being australian is now just a bit of paper and a flag of convenience.

    But where to go? The rest of the western world is just as bad. Maybe semi rural australia?

    The other thing is white australia needs advocates for their causes just like other groups have their advocates.

    • Black people owning the world – 3 million years, white people owning the world – 150 years (with side effects of global warming, mass exintinction and pollution). Get back to your cave.

      • You mean white people providing civilization for 150 years and making sure that billions of black people stayed alive by white men’s ingenuity and white medicine

    • The irony in your comment dumbfounds me. This whole website is built around the premise that there are too many coloured people and they are taking over the world, yet you state that white people created the civilisation/medicine that are keeping billions of them alive, who’s the imbicile.

      • This site tells the true story of growth and the vested interests that manipulate it, it has nothing at all to do with race. Remember, trolls like J.sp are just as likely to be from the growth/developer lobby seeking to denigrate the site and the truth about unfettered growth.

      • billygoatMEMBER

        @Jordan Sp
        Re: White elite? A little research – google, u tube, magazines, tv any media in fact will reveal elite are black, white and every other colour under the rainbow. They operate under the multi cultural, vibrancy & ‘diversity’ banner without exception.
        Political class, scientists, celebrities, royalty (Euro, African, Asian) rock starts, priests, bishops, popes even tdespots & dictators mix it up in celebrity elite world frocked up in fancy costume…it’s a show – anyone watching & listening is the audience
        We’re all in this together la la la:)

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        This site tells the true story of growth and the vested interests that manipulate it, it has nothing at all to do with race.

        LOL. The articles don’t, but it doesn’t take long perusing the comments to figure out a non-trivial percentage of the commenters do.

        SAP has the same problem (with their Facebook page).

      • The ‘member’ comments are fine. There are always a few dodgy non-member ones, but the reality is that these are just as likely to be by people deliberately denigrating the discussion on the site. MacroBusiness is pretty much the the sole voice of dissent against the extreme growth policies the major parties run for their key lobbyists and sponsors, and against the open-border ideologues. The use of threats of rac1sm has become a key plank in stifling debate on high growth or even corrupt policies and practices.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        The ‘member’ comments are fine.

        LOL. Stewie, to pick the most obvious and probably egregious example, is basically a neo-nazi.

        There are always a few dodgy non-member ones, but the reality is that these are just as likely to be by people deliberately denigrating the discussion on the site.

        No, they’re not. Any forum that starts to get a whiff of anti-immigration about it attracts them like flies to sh!t. It’s gotten noticeably worse here on MB over the last 2-3 years, especially compared to the early years.

        (Regular clickbait from the proprietors doesn’t help, either.)

        As I said, the SAP Facebook page has the same problem.

      • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

        Oh poor diddums – have I hurt your feelings in the past with exposure to wrong think? Poor boo-boo why don’t you go change your estrogen pessary and have a cry to someone who cares – maybe your long suffering mother?

        I believe in human bio-diversity, that we are all different and that those differences extend down to a genetic level.

        I believe that humans are unique in that a feedback loop exists between culture, genes and environment, and that each impacts and helps shape and effect the other. That population groups are ideally located around the world in both the environment that best suits their adaptations, and cultural values that best suit their genes and environment.

        Yet I also believe in treating any individual I meet with respect, regardless of ethnicity. Because although we are all different the same spectrum of behaviors are present in all population groups, just in different proportions. So any person and individual is an unknown quantity, just like Schrodinger Cat being alive/dead, any individual is potentially both good/bad, smart/dumb (in your case dumber), strong/weak, gentle/kind.

        Until you actually meet an individual and they reveal those qualities to you it would be morally wrong to judge them…. but we are not talking about individuals are we, we’re talking about population groups and then “Professor” they cease to be an unknown quantity, but a very known and predictable range of behavioral traits and outcomes can be expected.

        Also, I happen to believe that culture is important. Very important and unlike yourself it extends far beyond simply liking the Simpsons or watching the Cricket. But then you’re simply a barbarian with no culture of your own, other than whatever values are lovingly rammed down your throat by wealthy CEOs as they spend hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure you adopt the “right think” for them.

        And you? You’re just a dumb programmed looooser, who has never had an original thought in his entire pointless existence.

    • So maybe the white Elite (smart ones) that created the white civilisation and institutes, divised this whole plan to breed out the lesser intelligent whites?!? I do feel sorry for you my pale skinned friend.

    • Pay as little tax as possible.

      Claim every possible tax deduction. Buy an investment property and claim depreciation on the building. Claim thousands of kms on your car for work purposes.

      Pay cash to tradies and ask for 10% off.

      Setup a family trust and disburse asset returns through a family member with no Australian income.

      Starve the beast.

  5. I dont think this will end bar some major global depression or pandemic and even then our elites will still sell us out.

    How to get rid of our elites in academia, politicians, the judiciary who are conspiring against us? Should they be exiled? Voted out? More drastic methods for their treason?

    I would pull out of the UN completely for starters

    • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

      This will end exactly how all Multicultural societies have ended across time, stretching all the way back to Rome – once the state can no longer meet all the competing needs of different cultures and communities operating within it, then it will quickly fragment and disintegrate, with the sort of violence and horror to remind everyone that the only thing separating people of today from those who lived a thousand years ago, was the good fortune of living in a time of plenty.

      As the world tips over from a world of relative plenty in terms of resources, to one of scarcity, things will soon start falling apart. Energy prices dictate EVERYTHING in our society, and a fact that goes unacknowledged, even on this site, is that it is currently only possible to achieve energy costs as low as they are now, through the massive subsidy being delivered to US Shale Oil efforts in terms low interest rates, in facilitating the capital development required of delivering fracked shale oil and gas onto the market.

      If we had to rely on non-conventional oil reserves alone, then the price of energy would be multiples higher and the level of instability across the world would be many magnitudes higher. Much of the “Arab Spring” that was celebrated as the enlightenment of Arab nations throwing off their dictators, had less to do with Westerners conceited belief in their social media apps, and far more to do with the high cost of Oil at the time that was embedded in the basic staples, like wheat, that form the core of many these nations basic needs. While we in the West might not think too much of the doubling of the price of bread, it is another matter entirely when the cost of food already consumes most of your income.

      As we commence riding down the other side of the Hubbert oil depletion curve, the West’s time of instability is rapidly approaching. In fact, the people I really pity, will be those non-culturally aligned immigrants who have moved into the West in a misguide effort to secure a short cut for a better life.

      • Don’t worry about the lack of energy, the global biodiversity collapse is here right now.

      • Another intelligent man, white I assume, so when this so called instability reaches tipping point, you think the Chinese and Indians will not aim their nuclear missiles(another hopeless western invention) at this nation.

      • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

        India and Pakistan will blow themselves up over water or nasty name calling long before then – just goes to show you how important culture is given they’re got basically the same base genetic Dalit stock, with the only real difference being Paki’s are overlayed within whatever contribution rapey muslims bestowed on them when they conquered them a couple hundred years before the English got around to it.

        China will get old before it gets strong…. they’ll need the nukes in about 20 years time simply to stop the Indians and Pakis who are out breeding them like flies, from hiking over the Himalayas and kicking whatever geriatric Chinaman butt that remains.

        My comments were in regards to the Multicultural immigrants who think they’re going to be finding a better life for themselves and their descendent here in Australia – as the energy dynamics change and the economics continue to deteriorate, their communities, especially if they refuse to assimilate, will become obvious targets as invading minorities have always found themselves to be when times of plenty turn to famine…. Rwanda, Germany, Armenia…. human nature in these matter never change.

      • So another theme of this website is that the Chinese and lesser extent for now Indian migrants are just acting as colonisers of the state of India and China and sticking to their cultires. So you think when their comrades in Australia are being systematically targeted they won’t send their military to fight back. 25 million against billions? You seem to have a lot of faith/confidence for members of your race, I will repeat what I said earlier in the comments, white civilisations good run only 150 years old and I don’t see it going on much longer. Don’t worry mate we won’t treat you as bad as you think it will be.

      • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

        Seriously when Australia starts to feel the sort of social unrest that follows as nations start moving into a world of resource scarcity, shyt holes like India and China, if they even still exist as coherent entities by that stage, will have way bigger things to worry about than a small population descended from a bunch of their more feckless expatriates who abandoned their country and culture, to run away to Australia for a short cut to a better life.
        They will be on their own in a very hostile land.

  6. Ms De Lance was cynical about the school’s motivations for closing, saying other schools operated successfully with fewer students.
    “I suspect the real estate value of the highly desirable location might be a leading driver for the decision,” she said.
    “I would wonder whether the property the land is situated on is more valuable than ongoing girls’ education.
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-30/presentation-college-windsor-catholic-girls-school-to-close/11364188

  7. Where’s the indigenous voice in the immigration debate? They should launch a case against the government for conducting further cultural and ethnic genocide against them.

    • This has become a serious issue for indigenous communities. In a recent development fight over Mt Coot-tha in Brisbane, it was explicitly recognised by the local indigenous community that development hyper-growth was destroying what’s left of their culture and cultural history.

  8. TailorTrashMEMBER

    “Ensure that the sponsor can provide for the partner without imposing on the public purse.”

    What a silly idea …no no….need to redefine Centrelink as an “export “ and an “industry “ contributing to GDP then package it up like all the other social capital
    and flog off access to it to these foreigners . Just make sure the mates make a tidy quid out of it .

    Many years ago when my children were little I made sure they got a couple of extra passports as I did not think
    the Australia they were born into would last out their lifetimes….I am even more convinced of that today

  9. I paid a fortune for a partner visa last year and I have still heard nothing on the assessment of my case. Massively upset as an Australian-born citizen that the fee went from $1400 to $7100 and I have to bare that because they increased the fee to try and decrease fraud. Absolutely disgusting.

    • Not really. Given the amount of fraud, $7100 isn’t enough. It’s been made harder for you because of dodgy people and politicians.

    • Just another piece of social infrastructure that has been crushed under the weight of the extreme growth policies. Thank your friendly party politician that an australian that wants to bring a spouse over is now competing with hundreds of thousands of scam marriages on the back of years of failed skilled and student migration policy.

  10. Contrived marriages has always been the best way to get Permanent Residence. As at 2010, the (street) price sponsors were asking was 60,000 in Sydney and 40,000 in Melbourne.The bona fides of spouse applications is assessed on supplied evidence which can be easily doctored. DHA needs to vastly expand staff numbers in Sponsor Monitoring Units and undertake regular rural visits. Checking the bona fides of a marriage is a time consuming task needing skilled interviewers and vehicles to get to the claimed marital addresses. Currently, DHA have neither the staff, vehicles or places to park the vehicles. Also, there is no DHA presence outside the State capitals.