A widespread problem of corrupt migration agents poses a “high risk” threat, and may require greater investigative powers to combat, according to the Department of Home Affairs.
Disciplinary investigations by Home Affairs found some migration agents have swindled hundreds of thousands of dollars from desperate clients, while others regularly falsify documents to obtain visas which should never have been issued.
Assistant Home Affairs Minister Linda Reynolds said she would “not tolerate this kind of behaviour by migration agents who think it is acceptable to defraud clients”.
In one of the worst of the findings, Destiny Visa migration agent Maryam Shahi was found to have required a $50,000 “bond” to obtain a visitor visa for an Iranian citizen in November 2017 despite no bond being required nor requested by Home Affairs for the application
Ms Shahi later said she had sought the bond because another migration agent in Tehran had previously helped a client obtained a visitor visa, but that family had refused to return to Iran after the trip and applied for protection, harming his “livelihood”.
In another complaint against Ms Shahi, lodged in October last year, a client known as Ms EGS was also asked for a $30,000 deposit to “guarantee the grant of the visitor visa”.
No application was ever lodged with Home Affairs, and at the time of the complaint, Ms Shahi – who has since had her license cancelled – still owed Ms EGS $9000 of the bond deposit paid.
There were at least five other occasions, according to the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority, that Ms Shahi was paid for visa services – once more than $9000 – where no application was every received by Home Affairs and despite the “desperate circumstances” of her client