The Australian Government has introduced a new bill which aims to severely penalise those who ask for, receive, offer or provide payment or other benefits in return for a range of sponsorship-related events. Should the Bill pass both houses of Parliament, it will be a criminal offence to engage in this type of activity with criminal and civil penalties available. Where visa holders have been involved in paying for a sponsored visa, such as a Subclass 457 visa, the Department of Immigration will have the option to cancel their visas.

It will be a criminal offence for a sponsor (or other third party such as a recruitment agent) to ask for or receive a benefit for providing a sponsored visa with a maximum of 2 years imprisonment or a fine equivalent to AU$64,000.00 for an individual or AU$324,000.00 for a corporation (body corporate, company).

Civil penalties include  fines of AU$43,200.00 for an individual or AU$216,00.00 for a corporation (body corporate, company). Civil penalties can be imposed on the sponsor, visa applicant or other third party who received or provides or offers any other benefit for a sponsored visa.

This is a strong direction by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to ensure that the sponsored visa categories are not misused and visa applicants are not taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers.