Bogus documents – Public Interest Criteria 4020 (PIC 4020) – visa refusal
The Nuts & Bolts
Can’t get no Satisfaction? Let us help.
I am often approached by clients who have had their visa refused – often at AAT level, consequently I thought I will post this as part of our “nuts and bolts” series
The central issue is Satisfaction – Satisfying Public Interest Criteria 4020 (PIC 4020) is important for your visa application. If PIC 4020 is a requirement of your visa, the Department of Home Affairs (Department) must be satisfied that your identity is correct and that you have not provided false or misleading information in the current or previous visa application.
PIC 4020 Criteria – Department must have evidence!
PIC 4020 covers two key areas:
- whether fraud has occurred relating to bogus documents and false or misleading information provided in the application for a visa or a visa held in the last 12 months; and
- whether the Department is satisfied with the applicant’s identity.
It does not matter how the Department becomes aware of the above, whether through the material provided in the application or otherwise. However, the Department must have evidence to support its decision that PIC 4020 is not satisfied. The Department may conduct relevant checks necessary if the above is suspected.
Satisfying PIC 4020
Nearly all visa applications must satisfy PIC 4020. The Department of Home Affairs can refuse your visa application if you do not satisfy it. PIC 4020 will apply to all visas in the following subclasses:
- family; and
- skilled migration.
False or Misleading Information
Some examples of false and misleading information include:
- falsified statements or documents such as work references;
- answering questions from the Department of Home Affairs incorrectly (e.g. not declaring criminal history);
- lying about a state of affairs, such as creating a false relationship for a partner visa; or
- omitting key information.
If you make a typing error, such as your year of birth or your unit number in your street address, this will typically not amount to false or misleading information. Accordingly, you will simply need to explain this when requested.
Bogus Document – what is it?
A bogus document is a falsified or fake document in any shape or form. It refers to documents that:
- were not issued in respect of a person but claim to be;
- are counterfeit or altered without appropriate authority; or
- were obtained as a result of a false or misleading statement (whether or not made knowingly).
Examples of bogus documents include:
- fake passports;
- birth certificates;
- false work references;
- doctored academic transcripts; and
- photoshopped images.
Consequences of Visa Refusal Under PIC 4020
The Department can ban you from applying for another Australian visa for either:
- 3 years for false, misleading information and bogus documents; or
- 10 years for false identity.
In addition, if one of several applicants in an application fails to satisfy the PIC 4020 criteria, the Department will typically refuse to grant a visa to all applicants.
Natural Justice Letter
A natural justice letter gives you an opportunity to:
- comment on the suspected false or misleading information or bogus document; and
- address whether you believe any grounds apply for a waiver.
The bogus document or false or misleading information should have a quality of ‘purposeful falsity’. Therefore, if you can successfully explain an innocent mistake in a document or information you have provided, you may be deemed to satisfy PIC 4020.
Request a Waiver
If your visa application is refused for not satisfying PIC 4020, you may be subject to an exclusion period of 3 or 10 years. This is effectively known as a non-grant period.
The Minister can waive PIC 4020 in specific circumstances to allow you to apply for another subsequent visa without waiting for the non-grant period to expire. However, the Department can only issue a waiver if it is satisfied with your identity.
To receive a waiver, you must satisfy that there are either:
- compelling circumstances that affect the interests of Australia. For example, Australia would miss out on a significant economic business if they refused the visa; or
- compassionate or compelling circumstances that affect the interests of an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen, such as health issues or minor children involved.
Therefore, the Department must determine that you satisfy one of these criteria, which justifies granting a visa. You will still be required to provide the correct documents and information to obtain the visa.