What Are the Consequences of a Fake Marriage in Australia Being Found Out?
A sham or fake marriage in Australia is when a couple marries not out of love, but for the purpose of gaining an advantage. One party usually seeks out another in order to gain an immigration advantage, such as residency, to study or work, or gain citizenship rights while offering some kind of financial benefit to the other. While there may be other instances in which two people come together in a fake marriage in Australia, such as to hide the sexuality of one or both spouses, those that come to light are more often than not those used for immigration purposes. We share what the consequences are of being found out when you are in a fake marriage in Australia.
Why Do People Enter Fake Marriages in Australia?
The Australian Government has very strict rules in place when it comes to people coming to work and live in Australia.
In the year to June 2020, there were 509,600 people who migrated from overseas to Australia. This was a decrease of 7.4% since 2019 due to the impacts of Covid-19. This year, the numbers are likely to be higher again due to borders being opened and travel restrictions loosened.
Of those who migrate to Australia from overseas, about 25% are people who come to join their partners.
There are many reasons why people migrate to Australia, and these are often the same reasons people enter a fake marriage in Australia.
These include Australia’s low unemployment rate and high minimum wage, subsidised and free health care, as well as the weather and climate.
How Do Partner Visas Work in Australia?
Partner visas have a two-stage application process; the first stage is an application for a Provisional Visa, and the second for a Permanent Visa. A permanent visa may be granted 2 years after application, provided the provisional Visa was granted and the couple is still together. Applications can be lodged while the applicant is overseas (309/100), or lodged while the applicant is in Australia (820/801), and couples must be married, engaged, intending to get married or live together in a de facto relationship to be eligible, and must be able to prove this. The partner who already lives in Australia must be an Australian Citizen, or eligible New Zealand citizen to be able to sponsor you.
If you are able to prove that you have been married or in a committed DeFacto relationship for over three years before applying for the partner visa, you may skip the provisional visa waiting period and be granted the second Permanent Visa straight away. This provides the distinct advantage of not having to continue to provide evidence after your provisional visa has been granted but before you receive your permanent visa. Talk to an immigration lawyer for the best advice on the partner visa application process.
Alternatively, people may apply for a prospective marriage visa (300) which allows them to come to live in Australia for up to 15 months to get married, and then apply for a partner visa.
What Happens if a Fake Marriage in Australia is Found Out?
Immigration authorities may conduct checks at any time and have meticulous methods for uncovering fraudulent activity.
There are harsh penalties for anyone who is in a sham or fake marriage in Australia. The Migration Act 1958 (Cth) defines and governs sham or fake marriages or relationships in Australia that are entered into for the purpose of obtaining a visa.
Section 240 of the Migration Act, states that you may face 10 years imprisonment or a fine of $100,000 for arranging “a marriage between other persons with the intention of assisting one of those other persons to get a stay visa by satisfying a criterion for the visa because of the marriage.”
Further to this, it is also punishable to arrange a relationship in which two people appear as a de facto couple for the purpose of obtaining a visa, and to make a false statement in relation to either of these types of relationships.
Either or both spouses could find themselves facing severe penalties. The immigrant spouse will likely be deported and unable to ever again obtain any form of Australian visa.
How Can I Report A Fake Marriage?
If you suspect or know someone is in a fake marriage in Australia, you can file a report with the Department of Home Affairs.
Need To Speak To a Family Lawyer?
At Pullos Lawyers, we are experts in Family Law. We have helped thousands of families in Brisbane and the Gold Coast navigate the complex legal issues that arise through divorce and separation, such as international family law, financial settlements, parenting arrangements, spousal maintenance and separation of property. Our family lawyers will help you achieve the best possible outcome through expert advice and excellent customer service. We invite you to get in touch via our enquiry form, or by calling our Brisbane office on (07) 3144 1641 or our Gold Coast office on (07) 5526 3646.