The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has been engaging in a new covert tactic to forcibly deport dangerous foreign nationals by cancelling their permanent residency visa while the individuals in question are offshore, stranding them overseas and preventing them from returning to Australia.
The Department’s new strategy was first employed as a means of dealing with bosses and other high-ranking members of the bikie criminal organisations that have become prevalent in Australia in recent years.
However, the sanction has now been expanded to individuals who are viewed as “suspected jihadists”, with up to 10 foreign nationals having already been prevented from returning to the country.
The Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, has been using the strategy for years as a means of targeting organised crime–leading to the cancellation and deportation of up to 147 senior bikies–which forms part of a much larger “disruption-based” policing strategy targeting criminals and other “undesirables”.
In total, the Minister for Immigration has cancelled more than 2800 visas as a result of the applicant’s criminal behaviour, with offences ranging from drug dealing, organised crime, national security threats and sex offences.
The Department is being assisted in their efforts by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), which provides lists of potential targets that are taken from its far-reaching intelligence network.
The Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, has also ordered the cancellation of 210 passports since January 2014, with almost all being suspected jihadists who either fighting in Syria or attempting to travel there.
An additional 39 passports have also been automatically suspended under new laws designed to facilitate fast cancellation for individuals who are suspected of travelling to foreign conflict hotspots.
However, the laws have also been a source of significant controversy, with public concerns raised that it traps wannabe-terrorists in Australia, increase the likelihood of an attack within our borders.
The DIBP have declined to provide any concrete details or statistics related to the efficacy of the policy. A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration has released a brief statement addressing the issue, saying that it is standard policy to cancel the visa of individuals who pose a threat to “Australia’s national security”.
“The department works with our law enforcement and intelligence partners to cancel the visas of non-citizens who are a risk to Australia’s national security,” the spokesperson said.
“This applies whether they are onshore or offshore.”
The CEO of Absolute Immigration, Jamie Lingham, expressed little surprise concerning the DIBP’s overseas cancellation policy, noting that it was consistent with the Department’s overall approach to managing risk assessment for visa holders.
He also urged prospective visa applicants to be as open as possible about any previous criminal convictions, as the penalty for failing to declare to the Department them is often an automatic refusal.
“This trend is in-line with how we have experienced the approach to overseas foreign nationals over the past few years,” Lingham said.
“We have had a number of occasions where clients have not declared their past indiscretions, and are subsequently facing visa refusals, cancellations, or even deportation. As a result, we would encourage clients with a questionable history of prior offences to declare any previous offences at all stages of the application process.”
“A conviction on its own may not necessarily mean a refusal, but it is always best to contact Absolute Immigration to assess any potential issues that may be faced during the visa application process,” he said.
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