12 December 2018

Migration Amendment (Enhanced Integrity) Regulations 2018 – Update

An amendment to the Migration Regulations will come into effect on 13 December 2018. The changes that will occur include the publication of information relating to sponsor sanctions and the clarification of merits review rights for certain offshore visa applicants. Additionally the amendment specifies the visas in which Home Affairs may request the tax file number (TFN) of a visa applicant, holder or former holder as well as specifying the purpose for which a TFN can be used, recorded or disclosed.

Who will be affected?

Employers who have been subject to sanction actions since 18 March 2015, or those who are sanctioned in future. Additionally, some visa applicants, holders and former visa holders may be affected.

Background:

In September 2017 the Australian government announced planned changes with regards to the public disclosure of employer  sanctions and the gathering and use of tax file numbers for visa applicants, visa holders and former visa holders in certain circumstances as part of an overall drive towards program integrity and visa compliance. The Migration Amendment (Enhanced Integrity) Regulations 2018 brings these planned changes into effect.

Impact:

These changes are significant and provide the government with considerable additional intelligence gathering powers to investigate potential non-compliance by employers and visa holders. This may include for example underpayment of salary to visa holders, breaches of visa conditions or identity fraud.

Public disclosure of sanctions:

For employers who have been sanctioned since 18 March 2015 the details of the sanctions will be publicly disclosed on the Home Affairs website. The information will include identification of the sponsor, the sponsorship obligation that the sponsor failed to satisfy, and information relating to the sanction action taken.

Tax File Numbers:

There are 19 subclasses of visas specified where Home Affairs may request TFN data (those related to skill based temporary and permanent visas). The government’s increased powers are likely to have a significant impact on employers who may have been misusing visa programs (sanctions) and visa holders or former visa holders who may have provided false or misleading information to Home Affairs, or who may have otherwise breached visa conditions. It is likely that the government will seek to cancel the visas of people who have been found to have engaged in non-compliant practices.

Merits review clarification:

The amendment ensures that the merits review of a decision to refuse to grant certain visas for offshore applicants are consistent with the merits review rights for onshore applicants.

Santa Fe Analysis:

These changes are highly significant and mark the start of a new paradigm in terms of immigration compliance for visa holders, applicants and employers. Whilst compliance must always be a key focus for employer sponsors, these changes should bring a renewed focus. It is essential that employer sponsors have robust systems and processes in place to protect themselves and their visa cohort and to ensure ongoing compliance with visa programs. Please contact Santa Fe to discuss your individual situation.

For further information or assistance please contact:

Simon Delmo
Immigration Manager
Santa Fe Relocation Australia
Registered Migration Agent No. 1066328
T: +61 3 9554 7393
E: Simon.Delmo@santaferelo.com

Byron Lewis
Regional Immigration Manager
Santa Fe Relocation Hong Kong
D: +852 2586 6023
M: +852 9023 3109
E: Byron.Lewis@santaferelo.com

Soumeya Messadi
Head of Immigration Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa
Santa Fe Group, Singapore
D: +65 6398 3520 / +65 9169 6061
E: soumeya.messadi@santaferelo.com

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