An Indian migrant has been handed a reprieve after a long legal pursuit for a visa that began when he hired a migration agent who later fled to India following a major immigration fraud.
Jagdip Singh went to S&S Migration and applied for a visa in April 2011. However, in his application, the migration agent wrongly claimed that Mr Singh had a positive skill assessment, which led to the refusal of his visa application.
Mr Singh later told the Administrative Appeals Tribunal that he wasn’t aware that his agent had applied for temporary graduate Subclass 485 visa on his behalf. He maintained that he did not know about the fraudulent documents and information in his application and that he was a victim of fraud by the migration agent.
However, the Tribunal held that Mr Singh had authorised the migration agent to act on his behalf and that he was responsible for the visa application and information contained in it.
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A challenge to the decision in the Federal Circuit Court was also knocked back last year when the Judge said Mr Singh was ‘at best, indifferent to fraud’ by the agent.
The Federal Circuit Court heard that Mr Singh had only given a copy of his passport to the agent to submit the application. The court said that should have put a reasonable person on notice that the agent was unlikely to take a legitimate course.
Mr Singh also said he paid the fee in cash after the agent told him that his visa application had been filed. The court said it was implausible that an agent would file an application before receiving the fee.
However, the Federal Court of Australia held that the reasons for arriving at the conclusion that Mr Singh was indifferent to the fraud wasn’t explained by the Circuit Court, and took into account his unchallenged statement that he was “shocked and unable to understand” when he learned about the visa refusal.
“[He] did not give contrary or inconsistent oral evidence as to his reaction on either version of the circumstances in which he learnt of the refusal,” Federal Court Judge Davies J said.
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The Federal Court remitted the case to the Federal Circuit Court for redetermination.
The most sophisticated immigration fraud
Last month, in a similar case, the Federal Court ruled in favour of a woman who the court said was an innocent victim of fraud by the same migration agent, S&S Migration.
Harpreet Kaur, went to S&S Migration for a student visa, was told by her agent that she could get a work visa. Unbeknown to Ms Kaur, the agent said in the visa application that she had a positive skills assessment and also provided a fake number. Her visa was refused for providing false and misleading information in her visa application.
Before the Federal Court finally declared that the visa application she filed was invalid – an order she was seeking from the court, her appeal against the decision had been rejected by the Federal Circuit Court twice.
Like her, hundreds of clients of S&S Migration were left in limbo when the operators of the agency shut shop and fled to India.
Jeetender Ajjan, one of the operators of S&S Migration and his wife Reetika Ajjan – a former officer of the Department of Immigration, fled to India after committing what’s called “the most sophisticated immigration fraud” in Australia.
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The Australian Border Force alleges potential visa applicants paid significant sums of money for fake companies to support their visa applications.
The fraud involved using stolen official stamps and equipment to forge documents, and overseas workers and students paid large sums to obtain visas to which they were not entitled.
S&S Migration was run by Jeetender Ajjan and a registered migration agent Mahim Sodhani. Fairfax Media reported that investigators found nearly $500,000 in cash and equipment stolen from the Immigration Department in a raid on the home of the Ajjans in 2011.
Before Reetika and Jeetender Ajjan left Australia in October 2011, they reportedly transferred $1.2 million to overseas bank accounts.
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