A prominent member of Melbourne’s Indian community said he knew of at least 40 Indians who had paid large cash sums to obtain fake skilled and student visas in an effort to get permanent residency.
- Foreigners are arriving in Australia on fake skilled and student visas
- “Visa fixer” filmed saying he knows employers willing to create fake jobs
- Fixer says he can arrange false paperwork in exchange for $50,000
Jasvinder Sidhu, a lecturer at RMIT and former multicultural advisor to Premier Daniel Andrews, said some of the fake visa-holders had gone on to be exploited, and in some cases raped, by their bosses.
Mr Sidhu said he was approached by a “visa fixer” to take part in the scam.
This same fixer was caught on a hidden camera telling an undercover operative he knew employers in Sydney and Melbourne willing to create fake jobs for foreigners.
The fixer said he could help organise the false paperwork in exchange for $50,000.
Mr Sidhu’s claims have been revealed in a joint 7.30–Fairfax Media investigation, which has discovered that in the last 12 months, Immigration Department chief Michael Pezzullo has referred 132 cases of suspected corruption inside the department to the national corruption watchdog, the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI).
A departmental spokesman cautioned that many of the 132 corruption allegations had not been verified and some involved allegations about people who falsely claimed to be immigration officials.
‘In any industry we can get sponsorship’
Mr Sidhu said the “visa fixer” approached him on Facebook.
“He said, very confidently, ‘in any industry we can get sponsorship’. And he even offered me money. For every case I think it was $5,000 he was offering,” Mr Sidhu said.
In a series of conversations on Facebook, the fixer asked Mr Sidhu to find new Australian visa applicants among his friends and family back in India.
The fixer said he would then arrange for a corrupt employer to provide the paperwork for a fake job and visa sponsorship.
“They were offering multiple sponsorships in mechanics, commercial cookery, IT as well,” Mr Sidhu said.
“They did say his boss had a good range of 457 [visas] in IT, in information technology.”
Mr Sidhu said he became aware of visa scams shortly after he moved to Australia 10 years ago as a student.
“I’ve been hearing about it for the last eight or nine years, and the last time I heard it was last week, when someone paid $45,000 cash,” he said.
“These people will create your fake time sheets, fake pay sheets, and fake superannuation. Everything is fake.
“You are paying extra to create a job that doesn’t exist, and a service that was never delivered, and you are getting a permanent residency, which is not fake. That is the real output.”
The trade in fake visas has been so successful Mr Sidhu believes there must be corrupt players in the Department of Immigration.
“I believe there is corruption from the top to the bottom,” he said.
“Thousands and thousands of people are being sponsored, and they are all fake. The whole system cannot work that smoothly if there is not corruption.”
‘She had been repeatedly raped but she didn’t complain’
Mr Sidhu said he was concerned about the human cost of the corrupt visa trade.
“I knew he would be exploiting a lot of poor people and people looking to migrate,” Mr Sidhu said.
“For $50,000, you just need to see how they live. There’s 10 people a house, they don’t eat, they work 18 hours a day.
“So I thought, ‘I must expose him; it might bring other changes in the laws and we might improve the system’.”
Mr Sidhu said he had personally met at least 40 Indians who had paid for fake visas, only to be ripped off by fixers or exploited by unscrupulous bosses who were part of the corrupt schemes.
“We have seen girls being raped by their employers, we have seen people with other major injuries at work, and they don’t complain,” he said.
“They just sit at home and don’t get paid anything. So we have seen all sort of extremes.
“A girl contacted me and she sent me her report. She had been repeatedly raped. But she didn’t complain, because permanent residency was a bigger incentive.”
The departmental spokesman said Border Force had spent 12 months ramping up its attack on visa and migration fraud.
“The Department’s activities are focussed on defeating visa fraud at the systemic level, including investigating and prosecuting networks involved in criminally exploiting Australia’s visa regime,” the spokesman said.