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Potential migrants could be putting their visas under threat if they turn to mobile applications for advice rather than registered migration agents. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) explained how important it is to follow all the necessary channels when it comes to lodging an application.

A spokesperson pointed out that tablet PCs and smartphone apps are also becoming popular among scammers as they hope to take advantage of vulnerable people. This follows on from the popularity of hoax emails and phone calls that have long been the favoured methods of communication for unscrupulous operators.

“We are aware of a number of mobile applications that offer guides to the unwary about applying for a visa where the applicant might not have sufficient evidence – or tips about how to speed up visa applications,” the spokesperson explained.

One of the main problems is that the information could be false or misleading, which could ultimately jeopardise a genuine application. The DIAC also issued a warning to anyone who is planning on defrauding the system, saying that there are significant risks involved with doing so.

“The unlawful provision of immigration assistance by unregistered people can adversely affect the lives of our clients and challenges the very integrity of Australia’s migration and visa programs,” stressed the DIAC spokesperson.

Ultimately, only registered migration agents are qualified under Australian law to provide advice relating to visa applications or migration. In recent weeks, a woman from Western Australia was fined by the Perth Magistrates Court after she was found guilty of committing fraud, which included providing false statements on visa applications.

Pacita Boynes entered a guilty plea to 13 separate charges under the Migration Act 1958, serving as an example to anyone else who might be tempted to defraud the system.

Ms Boynes was paid $120,000 by nine businesses to recruit Filipino workers, despite not being on the database of Australian migration agents. Other charges the defendant was found guilty of included two counts of referring people for paid employment, even when their work permissions did not allow it and nine counts of receiving remuneration.

“Unprofessional, incompetent or unethical behaviour by unregistered individuals challenge the integrity of Australia’s visa program and brings the entire profession of more than 4,500 registered migration agents into disrepute,” a DIAC spokesperson said at the time.

The Australian government will not tolerate the actions of these individuals, they emphasised.

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