Australia’s visa system overrun by Malaysian scammers

Two month ago, former High Court justice, Ian Callinan, warned that Australia’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) was being overloaded with bogus asylum seeker applications from migrants attempting to scam Australia’s visa system:

[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 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…

It was also revealed that Malaysians were behind much of this rorting, often assisted by dodgy migration agents:

The Malaysian government this week acknowledged Malaysians seeking to earn money in Australia were scamming the country’s protection visa system by the thousands each year…

Malaysian Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya told parliament there were few disincentives for workers to try their luck because it was so cheap to apply for a protection visa.

The worst that could happen was they would be sent home at Australia’s expense…

Nazuan Apis left Malaysia in late 2016 for Australia on a three-month online tourist visa, knowing he would likely overstay his welcome to earn money doing seasonal farm work.

But it was only after meeting a Malaysian work agent while working in a vineyard in Robinvale, Mildura, that he decided to apply for a protection visa in a bid to extend his work stay.

“He told me that if I wanted to stay in Australia I should apply for a protection visa. He said he could arrange it all for me for $100″…

Fifteen of his Malaysian housemates in Mildura, mostly farm workers who had also overstayed their visas, also applied for protection through the same agent…

Yesterday, The ABC revealed that 33,000 Malaysians have taken advantage of Australia’s visa system loopholes to lodge bogus claims for asylum over recent years:

In an interview with The Malaysian Reserve newspaper last week, High Commissioner Andrew Goledzinowski said 33,000 Malaysians had applied for asylum in Australia in recent years, most of whom were thought not to be genuine refugees.

“Many who overstay then apply for refugee status. At the moment, we have 33,000 Malaysian citizens — not Syrians, not Rohingyas — who have applied as a refugee in Australia,” Mr Goledzinowski was quoted as saying.

“They are doing it because they know we are a generous country.”

“We take refugees seriously and they are trying to delay the time to be removed [from Australia],” he added.

More than 10,000 Malaysian nationals are estimated to be in Australia unlawfully — a significantly higher number than people from any other country…

“From the information we have, the large number [applying for asylum] is due to the fact that Malaysians are taking advantage of Australia’s immigration laws to enable them to stay longer in an unlawful manner,” said a statement from Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, issued in response to Mr Goledzinowski’s interview…

“Everybody [in Malaysia] has got this idea that it’s so easy to get asylum in Australia,” [James Chin, director of the Asia Institute Tasmania] said.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that Malaysians are one of the few nationalities (alongside citizens of the US, Canada, Japan and Singapore) that have been granted easy access to Australia through our Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) system. This allows them to apply for short-term travel to Australia for only $20, without needing to attend an embassy or high commission.

Accordingly, the pathway has been left wide open for Malaysians to travel to Australia and then apply for asylum, knowing full well that it would take years for their claim to be assessed by the AAT, thus extending their stay and allowing them to work illegally.

Indeed, according to the ABC report above, 59% of applications for protection visas lodged in Australia in 2016-17 came from Malaysian and Chinese citizens, with only 2% of these deemed credible and granted asylum.

The systemic scamming by Malaysians helps to explain why bridging visas – usually granted to those awaiting claims for permanent residency – have more than doubled over the past five years:

Given the immense scale of this problem, the obvious solution is to suspend Malaysian’s access to the ETA system and close the migration rort pathway.

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  1. No way the Malaysian tap will be turned off.

    Given how moslem the country is, to do so would be racist.

  2. Change the law. Abolish bridging visas. If they don’t pay for the return ticket
    -lock them up

  3. When a person applies for something with the Australian government…

    As a citizen and voter I want the application to be dealt with within a reasonable time period. The govt should be capable of responding quickly to phone calls, emails and written applications of all sorts.

    Highly paid elites in govt should be delivering the service they are paid to deliver. For example, if the “Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) was being overloaded with … asylum seeker applications from migrants”, then the elites running the Administrative Appeals Tribunal should hire more people to process the applications.

    Many Australians are struggling to survive on unemployment “benefits” and would love to work at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Hire them and/or fire the elites.

    I refuse to vote for either Liberal or Labor politicians for many reasons, one of which is that they don’t ensure services are provided in a timely manner. I encourage you to do likewise and spread the word.

    • I completely agree. This is yet another problem (like the Biloela family drama) that would not exist if Australia had its own form of the “rocket docket” court in the US, specifically for asylum/refugee visa processing. Get in, get a decision, get out. Appeal a few months later. Get in, get a decision, get out. Appeal a few months later. Get in, get a decision, get out. The end, be allowed to stay after that, or be deported.

      The long tribunal and appeal times allows people to subvert the system by getting married, having an entire family’s worth of kids, or even simply earning 3-4 years of first world wages to take back to the home country so that one can be “rich as” compared to their neighbours back home. It also makes an ever-livin’ joke out of the 457 visa requirement that one has to leave the country if one can’t find a new sponsor within 30 days of losing their original sponsor.

      This is my possibly-now-out-of-date real-world experience with “using the immigration clock”. Years ago, I was on a 457 visa. I was laid off. I had 30 days to find another sponsor or leave the country. In early December. Yeah, you all know the likelihood of the first at that time of year, and I wasn’t willing to do the second. Yes, hello, The Hobbit is this site’s very own legal immigration hacker, who can tell you how the real world works differently than what’s said on paper.

      My first port of call was to the best migration agent in the regional town in which I worked. I knew I wasn’t going to find a job that quickly, so I wanted to know if I had ANY options, and if so, what they were.

      First reality check: I didn’t have 30 days from the date of losing my job, to find a new sponsor or leave the country. I had at least 30 days from the date of losing my sponsor, who might not file the paperwork immediately.

      Second reality check: The “at least” part is due to the way that at least back then, that clock worked. Because the way they administered that time period back then (and maybe still today), the clock didn’t start running until immigration notified you that your sponsorship had ceased and you had 30 days to find a new employer. And it’s likely rare that immigration would notify you the day or even the week they received the note from your former employer.

      So, the migration agent told me to hope that my former employer had lots of better things to do in the lead-up to Christmas than file that paperwork, and to hope that immigration was over-run with similar transactions for similar people, and that mine would sit in someone’s in-basked for a while.

      And they gave me the third reality check: “30 days to leave the country” really means “30 days to leave the country OR lodge an appeal with the migration appeals tribunal” (based on what, he never did say, but he seemed to think anyone could appeal even a 457 cessation decision). And then once the appeal has been lodged, to apply for a bridging visa that would give unrestricted work rights until my appeal was heard — actually a better, more flexible, work permit than the 457 I came in on.

      He said that all I had to do, during the approximately 1 year period I’d be waiting for my hearing, was choose my target job carefully, selecting one where the employer would agree to take me on as a 457 employee again, and then gee, suddenly I’d be back as a 457 again, before the Migration Appeal Tribunal even got around to considering my case.

      The cost of admission to this: $1500, the cost of lodging an appeal with the migration appeal tribunal.

      His comment was that immigration knows people know about the buy-time-via-the-tribunal loophole, and therefore, they often allow them a bit of time “off the books” to look for work before putting them on the 30-day clock, particularly for folks with professional level skills that they think will find a job before the tribunal gets around to hearing their case. Because that reduces the amount of paperwork that has to be done just so the person can stall whilst looking for their next job.

      • Epilogue: The week I was finalising the terms of my new offer, immigration called to say hi, how’s it going, we noticed you no longer have a sponsor. (This was about 100 days after I’d lost my employment) I told them I had an offer and was finalising it. They said they’d check back next week.They called a week later to tell me they could see my new sponsor against my 457 in their system, the end.

        No migration appeals tribunal application required, 70 free days in Australia to job hunt, over what the typical punter might believe reading the letter of the regulations, all completely legal due to the unintended consequences of huge migration appeal tribunal queues.

  4. I’m not sure just online applications are the problem. It hasn’t stopped the crowds of Chinese coming. Whether Malaysian or Chinese, the goal is to rort the system, stay as long as you can working 24/7 until you’re told to go back. A year or so on the infamous Bridging visa gives many just enough time to fall in sudden love with some lonely old Australian and apply for a Partner visa. The brothels are full of both of these scammers. The girls literally become prostitutes for life.