Public Interest Criterion PIC 4020
Public Interest Criterion PIC 4020, more commonly known as PIC 4020, is the Department’s main defence against fraud in visa applications. The objective of PIC 4020 is to make visa applicants responsible for the information they provide, and the integrity of any documents they submit to support their applications. PIC 4020 covers three main types of fraud:
- False or Misleading Information that is connected to a criteria for the visa that an individual has applied for. An example of this declaring that you have no criminal convictions, when you have previously had a criminal conviction. Another example is declaring previous work experience that has not actually be undertaken.
- Providing a fake of bogus document. The document does not need to be connected to any visa criteria, it merely needs to be given to attract attention under PIC 4020.
- Concerns regarding an applicant’s identity; resulting in the Department being unable to satisfy themselves that the person making the visa application is who they say they are.
For those found to have breached PIC 4020 for Ground Number 1 or Ground Number 2, they are subject to a 3 year exclusion period from applying for any visa application to Australia. They may also be required to declare their exclusion period in visa applications to other countries. The 3 year exclusion period can be waived and a visa granted during this time if the applicant can demonstrate significant compelling or compassionate circumstances that impact the interests of Australia or an Australian Citizen/Permanent Residence.
For any breached under Ground 3 of PIC 4020, there is a 10 year exclusion period imposed and no waiver is allowed. The most common situation that attracts PIC 4020 on the basis of identity is when identity documents have been changed to allow for an underage marriage in a foreign country; or to conceal the fact that the marriage was allowed despite one of the parties to the marriage being underage and rendering it invalid under Australian Law.
Allegations that a visa applicant has breached PIC 4020 is a very serious situation. A 28 Day period is given to respond to the allegations prior to a final decision being made.
Many innocent individuals get caught in the snare of PIC 4020; many due to over reliance on people assisting with their visa applications resulting in important information not being disclosed. There is protection for these individuals under relevant case law; however this is limited and often requires the case to be very carefully handled at all times. If a visa is refused by the Department, and the refusal is appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal; poorly managed cases often collapse at this stage even if the visa applicant was truly innocent.
It is important to remember that even if you hire a Migration Agent or a Lawyer; you are responsible for the information provided in your application even though it is prepared by someone else. Ignorance or lack of care is not an excuse; however a well prepared case of leniency can be successful.
Parish Patience Immigration Lawyers handles many PIC 4020 cases, and we have represented countless individuals facing the penalties under this provision. Success defending such matters has been achieved in the Department, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and in the Federal Courts.
If you have a PIC 4020 issue, we advise contacting us immediately for a consultation.