Beware of unscrupulous visa agents, say officials
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The authorities from Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia on Tuesday held a joint press briefing for the first time to warn immigration applicants against the hazards of indulging in fraudulent practices in the application process.
The three countries, along with India, have made strict provisions against visa frauds in view of the growing number of such cases. The authorities appealed to the people to beware of unscrupulous immigration agents who promise fast-track travel or good job opportunities and encourage submission of fake documents. Many times these agents charge huge fees and don't even submit the documents.
Sidney Frank, Canada's Area Director for Immigration in South Asia, said, "Such crooked agents advise applicants to enter into marriages of convenience, which, if caught, lead to loss of investment and a ban on entry into Canada." Canada has recently announced stricter measures aimed at deterring marriage fraud.
In the UK, there is a 10-year ban on travelling there and possible action from the Indian authorities, if the applicants are found to have provided misleading information. In 2011-12, more than 150 cases of fraud were referred to the Indian authorities and over 7, 500 bans were imposed across the country.
Thomas Greig, regional director, South Asia, UK Border Agency, said, "We have very efficient processes for detecting fraud and work with our international partners to do so."
In 2011, Australia introduced a Fraud Public Interest Criteria (PIC), under which visa applications are refused if false or bogus documentation is provided. According to Jose Alvarez, Regional Director, South Asia, Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the application would be refused and subject to a three-year ban on grant of a further visa.
All three officials emphasised that visa-related details are easily available online on their respective websites and the application process was not very difficult. It was important for applicants to choose visa agents carefully and make sure they were registered and would not cheat them.
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