The Integrity Public Interest Criterion


Perhaps this is a good time to revisit PIC 4020 and the rationale behind it as we are seeing a lot more natural justice letters from the Department in this regard.


An Introduction


Fraud within the Visa and Citizenship Programmes is a high risk for the Department. People may present bogus documents, conceal information or provide false or misleading information where they would otherwise fail to meet the criteria for a visa. Schedule 4 rationalises – they may commit fraud to facilitate people smuggling, human trafficking, drug trafficking or terrorist operations.



Thus - in order to manage the risks, appropriate mitigation strategies must be in place.


Lifted directly from the Policy – PIC 4020 contains two key areas:


  • Fraud relating to bogus documents and false or misleading information

  • Satisfaction with the applicant’s identity


PIC 4020 is intended to significantly increase the level of integrity in visa applications by providing a strong disincentive to those considering giving, or causing to be given, a bogus document or information that is false or misleading in a material particular. It also requires applicants to satisfy the delegate as to their identity.


PIC 4020 is one of the Public Interest Criteria in Schedule 4 of the Migration Regulations 1994. Where PIC 4020 is among the criteria for grant of a visa, unless the requirement to satisfy PIC 4020 is waived under PIC 4020(4), it must be met in order for the visa to be granted. Failure to satisfy PIC 4020 is grounds for visa refusal NOT for visa cancellation.


PIC 4020 enables refusal of a visa if the applicant provides a bogus document, or information that is false or misleading in a material particular in relation to the application for the visa, or in relation to a visa that the applicant held in the period of 12 months before the application was made (PIC4020(1) refers). It also enables refusal where the applicant fails to satisfy the delegate as to their identity (PIC4020(2A) refers).


Waiver


Section 65 delegates have discretion to waive the requirements of any or all of PIC 4020(1)(a) and/or 4020(1)(b) and PIC 4020(2) if satisfied of certain matters. Those matters are that compelling circumstances that affect the interests of Australia; or compelling or compassionate circumstances that affect the interests of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen justify the grant of a visa. If they are satisfied or those matters, the delegate may exercise their discretion to waive the requirements of any or all of PIC 4020(1)(a), 4020(1)(b) and 4020(2).


There is no waiver provision in relation to the identity requirements in PIC 4020(2A) or (2B).


Out of Scope


The regulations explicitly state that when assessing an application against PIC 4020, the following cannot be taken into account:

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