Organised crime fuels bridging visa scandal

We noted yesterday how a 196-page review of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has sought to end systemic rorting by Asian migrants, who are using loopholes to arrive in Australia on tourism visas and then paying $100 to apply for a humanitarian or protection visa to extend their stays.

The review came about after the explosion of Bridging Visas, whose numbers have more than doubled over four years to around 230,000 as at March 2019:

Yesterday, The Australian reported that the surge in bogus applications to the AAT was being fuelled by organised criminals:

[Former High Court justice Ian Callinan] said “almost everyone” with migration law experience had told him there were applic­ants and representatives who “game the system, well knowing there is an automatic entitlement to a bridging visa”.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority told Mr Callinan that delays had repercussions beyond the AAT. It told him it was aware that organised crimin­als were sometimes, “perhaps even regularly”, benefiting from fake vocational training prog­rams or “ghost’’ colleges…

The AAT now handles about 59,000 lodgements a year: more than half (52 per cent) are migra­tion and refugee cases…

The AAT’s caseload of migra­tion and refugee matters doubled in the two years to June 30 last year, and it was only able to finalise 18,000 of the 38,000 migration and refugee cases filed in 2017-18.

Meanwhile, Labor’s Home Affairs spokesperson, Kristina Keneally, attacked the Morrison Government for allowing the explosion in asylum seekers arriving by plane:

Labor’s Home Affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally told the Senate the number of protection visa applications made by people who arrived legally in Australia had blown out to 81,596 between July 2014 and the end of January this year…

“Why has the minister allowed for the large blowout in bridging visas and airplane people under his watch?” Senator Keneally asked in the Senate on Tuesday.

While the government has trumpeted its success “stopping the boats” since 2013 as a result of its hard line policy of offshore detention and boat turnbacks, the number of asylum seekers arriving by plane has skyrocketed.

Last financial year alone, the number of people applying for asylum who arrived by plane jumped to nearly 28,000, up from 18,290 in 2016-17 and 9,554 in 2015-16…

While 90 per cent of applications are rejected, many remain in Australia on bridging visas as they exhaust the appeals process which can take years.

There’s no getting around the fact that Australia’s visa system has more holes that a block of Swiss cheese, spanning the entire gamut. Rorting is pervasive, from bogus asylum seekers, to international students doing bogus courses for permanent residency, and low-paid ‘skilled’ migrants employed for the express purpose of undercutting Australian workers and juicing demand.

The whole immigration system has been corrupted and requires root-and-branch reform.

Leith van Onselen


  1. boomengineeringMEMBER

    Talking to a home affairs visa officer day ago asked his opinion of the rort and he said he wasn’t allowed to comment.

  2. DreadnotMEMBER

    The holes in Swiss cheese are an integral characteristic of the product. The visa ‘rorts’ are an integral part, and consequence of, the current governance and economy of Australia.

    • Jumping jack flash

      Cheap workers, who are likely on bridging visas working for dodgy labour hire, are now a vital part of the equation for infinite debt expansion in the current environment.

      Not much will be done and not much can be done.
      If they start cutting the 3rd world workers how will wages rise and debt expand and then the economy expand?

      Prices just can’t rise to pay extra wages, but cost of living ratchets up due to the necessity of debt to be successful.

  3. “low-paid ‘skilled’ migrants employed for the express purpose of undercutting Australian workers”.
    A bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone. These Aussie workers need to sharpen their game big time. Thick as a plank most of them.

    • They certainly are thick.

      Everyone with a brain knows that the fastest way to fat profits is less competition.

      All the professions know this and so do most business people.

      Australian workers need to vote for politicians who promise to limit competition from cheap imported labour.

    • Tradies already make fat profits, which is ironic given their general level of numeracy.

      • Jumping jack flash

        Subcontract an army of immigrant “labourers” and you’re set, mate.

        Incidentally they’ve been using this tactic in the US for decades, we’re just catching up now!

    • The price tradies charge is directly correlated to the prices of real estate. The price of real estate increases with higher immigration, particularly at the lowest price point (new Ponzi entrants, Indians buying in outer metro suburbs). More Indians = more $$$ for your average tradie.

    • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

      I’ve been saying that there should be a RC into immigration for ages – particularly in regards to Public Servants of Indian nationality working within Australia’s Immigration system and the immigration agents.

      Many times I’ve narrated the direct experience of my mate who worked in recruiting where he found it was next to impossible to import a Level 5 IT developer from France who spoke perfect English and was critical for a particular projects success, but told he could import virtually an unlimited number of Indian spaghetti coders, who’ve got a smaller English vocabulary than your typical ‘Mr Men’ kids book.

      I main that you wouldn’t have to examine too many Facebook accounts or Indian Bank accounts (thanks to the Common Reporting Standards) before you’d have sufficient evidence to kick a couple hundred thousand out.

    • “low-paid ‘skilled’ migrants”
      No such thing. Riding a deliveroo bike, driving a car for Uber or working in a kitchen does not require skill. Lets call it what it is, a menial job. You don’t base immigration policy on menial jobs and dress it up as a skills shortage. Well, you do if your sole goal is to keep a ponzi going.

  4. My suspicion is that the laws and regulations around this (and pretty much most of big business related areas) are DESIGNED to be rortable and have legal loopholes. Add in the lack of budget and appetite for enforcement and this is what you get.

  5. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Organised crime? Oh FFS! It’s just good smart people making profits off the system instead of whinging about it.

  6. Three cheers for KK, running the Rizvi line on the scandal of the ‘chaotic’ viaa processing, while carefully ignoring the all-time records in net migration. With friends like her and Andrew Leigh, Labor has no need for external enemies.

  7. Attempt to seek asylum in Australia after a dangerous journey in a leaky boat? Straight to Manus Island for you. Stroll through immigration in Sydney after a comfy ride in a jet airliner then apply for asylum? No worries, here you go with your bridging visa and there’s a Woolies over there where you can push trolleys and stack shelves while we spend the next then years sorting this out.

    These people are taking the piss. They should be smacked and sent home. You don’t get to come here as a fake tourist and then suddenly turn into a refugee once you get here. NO exceptions.

  8. Asylum should only be considered from a secondary country, not Australia.

    It should be an agreed condition of entry for a temporary visa that you will be unable to apply for asylum in Australia whilst on said temporary visa (tourist visa, student visa etc).