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A SPECIALIST integrity unit has been formed inside the Department of Immigration to deal with widespread fraud in the working holiday visa program, on which industries such as fruit growing depend.

More than 200 internet advertisements have been found offering to buy or sell documents allowing backpackers to claim they had worked in rural jobs without them leaving Sydney, and thus extend their working holiday visas. The standard fee is $400. So far, 64 visas have been cancelled over the fraud and at least 19 more are being reviewed.

One man, an Irish national, has been convicted of fraud. ”There’s been more than 100 fraudulent claims identified this financial year,” a spokeswoman for the department said. ”The answer is we don’t know [the full extent of the fraud]. At this stage it’s too early to determine and we will be looking at it over the next six months.”

The working holiday visa (subclass 417) allows people to extend their stay in Australia by a year if they can prove they have worked in a rural area for three months. Applications are lodged online but have been abused by people selling Australian business numbers linked to farms so backpackers can falsely claim they worked on farms.

”Second year visas for sale,” one ad read. ”Will email completed 1263 form and add your details to my books so you can gain second year visa with ease.”

Another ad offering similar services, posted on the Gumtree website on Saturday, had received more than 2000 hits by last night. Unlike visa scams targeting international students, mainly Indians, this fraud is used mainly by European visitors.

One backpacker told the Herald he had been offered the false documentation as soon as be arrived in Australia, by people staying at the same hostel.

”People told me about buying the documents – getting the numbers to put in,” he said. ”When I arrived here people said you can go there [to a farm] or you can buy. Everyone knows about it. It’s easy. All the people who are here know about that.”

The federal Opposition spokeswoman on immigration, Sharman Stone, said the widespread fraud reflected under-resourcing of the department.

Source  :  www.smh.com.au
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A new educational resource kit on citizenship will provide school children across the country with a greater understanding of our civic responsibilities and what it means to be an Australian citizen.

The school resource book – I am Australian: Exploring Australian Citizenship – is designed to assist teachers to deliver more in-depth lessons on Australian citizenship and civics to upper primary and lower secondary school students.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said the school resource book will help students better understand the meaning and significance of Australian citizenship.

‘Knowledge of Australian citizenship and civic responsibilities is important for all Australians, no matter how they became citizens,’ Senator Evans said.

‘This will be a valuable learning tool for all students, not only for those who have come here from other countries, but also for those who have lived all their lives in Australia.

‘It will also help students appreciate the contribution made to Australia by people from diverse backgrounds, whose journey to Australia was completed when they became citizens.’

The school resource book contains classroom activities which are linked to the curricula of each state and territory and are specifically designed for upper primary and lower secondary school students. The activities relate to Australia’s democratic beliefs, Australian citizen case studies and what it means to be an Australian citizen.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has been producing citizenship resources for schools since 2001. The updated school resource book coincides with the 60th anniversary of Australian citizenship.

Since the first citizenship ceremony in 1949, more than four million people from more than 200 countries have become Australian citizens.

Senator Evans launched the new school resource book with Hindmarsh MP Steve Georganas at the Plympton Primary School in Adelaide, where the Minister conducted a citizenship ceremony for a student and his father.

Zhenguo (Ken) Yang, 43, and his son Pengyu (Kevin), 11, from the People’s Republic of China, became Australian citizens after migrating to Australia in 2005. Mr Yang, a network engineer, came to Australia with his wife Qihong (Linda) Ling, who is studying nursing, to pursue better educational and career opportunities for the family.

‘I congratulate Mr Yang and his son Kevin on their decision to become Australian citizens,’ Mr Georganas said.

‘Citizenship represents a commitment to Australia and its people, the values we share and our common future. It also symbolises our sense of belonging to the country where we have been born or have decided to make our home.’

Source  :  http://www.minister.immi.gov.au/media/media-releases/2009/ce09100.htm

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