An Australian citizen has been fined $12,000 by a Perth court for providing immigration assistance while not a registered migration agent.
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) says the sentence sends a strong warning that illegal operators in the migration industry will not be tolerated.
Pacita Boynes, who was previously convicted on similar matters, pleaded guilty to 13 charges under the Migration Act 1958, for offences including making false statements on visa applications and referring people to work in breach of visa conditions.
In Australia, migration agents must be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority.
DIAC began an investigation of the woman after receiving a complaint from one of her clients and found her acting without accreditation as a migration agent for dozens of individuals or businesses on temporary skilled migration matters.
She is suspected of earning more than $100 000 by charging fees to both businesses and visa applicants for migration services.
In November 2010, Boynes had to pay the Commonwealth $50,000 under the first successful proceeds of crime action for migration fraud for her work as an unregistered migration agent.
A DIAC spokesman said anyone found to be providing unregistered immigration assistance can face charges under the Migration Act with penalties ranging from two to 10 years’ imprisonment and/or fines.
“The Australian Government will not tolerate illegal operators posing as migration professionals,” the spokesman said.
“Migration decisions involve considerable financial and emotional investments on behalf of prospective migrants. Unprofessional, incompetent or unethical behaviour by unregistered individuals challenge the integrity of Australia’s visa programme and brings the entire profession of more than 4500 registered migration agents into disrepute.”
Anyone found to have obtained a visa based on fraudulent information will be considered for cancellation, and any future applications may be refused under new provisions introduced in April 2011. People working in breach of visa conditions also face visa cancellation.
Earlier, a Perth man was prosecuted in August 2011 for supplying illegal workers to West Australian businesses.
In Australia, migration agents must be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA). A list of registered migration agents in Australia is also available on the website.
Agents Outside Australia: Migration agents who operate outside Australia do not have to be registered. The MARA department may give some overseas agents an identification (ID) number. This number does not mean they are registered.