Public Interest Criterion PIC 4020

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Meet relationship requirements  
In most cases, you must be the 
spouse or de facto partner of an: 
  • Australian citizen
  • Australian permanent resident or
  • eligible New Zealand citizen 
Your relationship can be with
 someone of the same or different sex. 
You might still be eligible for the visa if  your relationship breaks down or your sponsor dies while we are considering your application. 
Married applicants 
To be a married applicant: 
  • you and your spouse must both be committed to a shared life together to the exclusion of all others
  • your relationship with your spouse must be genuine and continuing
  • you must live with your spouse or do not live apart on a permanent basis
  • your marriage must be valid under Australian law 
To find out if your marriage is valid 
under Australian law, contact
 the relevant state or territory agency for births, deaths and marriages. 
De facto partners 
To be a de facto partner, you must be in a de facto relationship. you and your partner are in a de facto relationship if all these apply: 
  • you are not married to each other
  • you are committed to a shared life to the exclusion of all others
  • your relationship is genuine and continuing
  • you live together or do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis
  • you are not related by family 
Usually your de facto relatioship must have existed for at least 12 months immediately before you  apply for the visa. 
Time spent dating or in an online 
relationship might not count 
as being 
in a de facto  relationship. 
The 12- month requirement will not apply if you can show us compelling and compassionate 
circumstances exist to grant the 
subclass 820 visa. 
The 12-month requirement also will not apply if: 
  • your partner holds or held a

    permanent humanitarian visa

  • your de facto relationship existed before we granted their visa
  • you de facto partner told us about the relationship before we granted their visa  
It also will not apply if you: 
  • are in a de facto relationship with a partner who is an applicant for a permanent humanitarian visa, or
  • you have registered your relationship with an Australian authority such as a registry of births, deaths and marriages 
You might still be granted the temporary 
visa if your relationship
 has broken down or if your sponsor died.

You must have a sponsor when you lodge your application and when you are on this visa. 

We must approve your sponsor. There are limitations on approval. 

You can’t change your sponsor. The person who sponsors you when you apply for the visa must be same person who sponsors you for 2 years after we grant your temporary 309 Partner visa

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