Providing misleading information, false documentation or identification are obvious big no-nos in Australia. There are criminal laws governing such actions but to keep it simple the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has a law where they can by step the police and keep it simple by just refusing your visa. The PIC 4020 (Public Interest Criteria) requirement is used a broad sweeping broom to briskly sweep out any suspect offenders. The problem is that if your caught by this broom and about to be shown the door and the door will be locked for the next three or ten years. It is very difficult to be saved from being tossed out, not impossible, but difficult. Many people try and do the wrong thing and that is their choice to take the risk. However many innocent people get caught up in these aggressive clean ups by the department as all it takes is them to get suspicious.

Will you get caught by the 4020 broomstick? It will apply if:

  • The applicant has provided false documentation, misleading or incorrect information, or cannot satisfy as to their identity for an application
  • The applicant has provided false documentation, misleading or incorrect information, or cannot satisfy as to their identity in relation to a visa the applicant held in the 12 months before the time of application
  • The applicant or member of the family unit was previously refused a visa due to false documentation, misleading or incorrect information, or inability to satisfy as to their identity

If the applicant has provided false documentation, misleading or incorrect information, or cannot satisfy as to their identity, they will face a refusal on the basis of failure to meet PIC 4020.

If the applicant has previously been refused a visa based on  PIC 4020 due to having provided false documentation or misleading or incorrect information, they will not be able to be granted another visa with a PIC 4020 requirement for the next three years.

If the applicant has previously been refused a visa based on  PIC 4020 due to having been unable to prove one’s identity, they will not be able to be granted another visa with a PIC 4020 requirement for the next ten years. There is no provision for a waiver of the ban or “no-grant” period under these circumstances.

It is very important to be careful with this. It is more easy than you think to get yourself in a situation PIC 4020. Perhaps you did not directly provide false information or documents to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). It can still bite you in the behind. Here’s an example; you have provided false evidence on work experience to yours skills assessment body just so you can pass the assessment criteria. Then with that positive assessment your apply for a migration visa but you do not give the DIBP those bogus work refence letters. You hope the DIBP will not check on your work history but the reality is, that they often do. The DIBP checks with your employer who say you were working in some other occupation, not the one you claimed.

The DIBP will provide the applicant an opportunity to respond, and if the applicant can satisfy that it was a small and genuine error, or provide documentation to clear up the confusion, then PIC 4020 will become irrelevant. If the applicant has compelling or compassionate circumstances and is eligible for the waiver provision, the applicant will still carry PIC 4020 in their record for future applications, even if their current application is approved.

The following examples of false and or misleading information are not exhaustive lists. They serve to remind you to be careful if your application is a complicated one, and for those who are thinking they might be able to trick the DIBP, the DIBP has already seen it all.


False or misleading information

Important factors when considering if information is false or misleading are:

  • The information is false and misleading at the time it was given
  • The information is relevant to the requirements of the visa being applied for (and not whether the decision is made based on that information)
  • If the incorrect information was a typographical error
  • Whether the omission was the result of the applicant being ignorant to its relevance

Examples of false or misleading information include:

  • False or inaccurate statements or information in a document, application, or declaration.
  • Omission of facts that are affect the applicant fulfilling visa criteria, such as an applicant for a Partner visa not notifying the department that the relationship has broken down
  • Supplying false statements or information when asked to clarify information or omitting relevant information in a way that misrepresents facts
  • A medical examination is undertaken by a substitute person on behalf of an applicant
  • Falsification of relationships for family sponsored visas
  • An applicant provides a training certificate in support of an application. The certificate and training undertaken is accurate, however the applicant claims that the training organisation is a Registered Training Organisation when it is not
  • A student advises they are enrolled in full time course, however they are actually enrolled part time
  • An applicant makes a visitor visa application stating on the form they have been employed for the past two years. Verification with employer reveals applicant has been employed only for the past three month
  • Variances in birth dates provided on the application form and birth certificate that cannot be adequately explained
  • False or misleading information about a secondary and/or non-migrating dependant’s relationship to the primary applicant
  • A false or misleading employment reference in support of an applicant’s work experience claims
  • A variance between marriage location provided on application form and marriage certificate that cannot be adequately explained


False documentation

Important factors when considering if a document is falsified are:

  • If the document is allegedly issued for the applicant but is not
  • If the document is counterfeit or altered without authority
  • Was obtained through false or misleading information, whether knowingly or unknowingly

Examples of counterfeit documentation include:

  • Fake passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, educational certificate, adoption order, work reference or financial document
  • Fake documents regarding custody or dependency claims relating to a minor
  • Fake work experience documentation relating to skilled work undertaken in their nominated occupation (either in Australia or outside Australia, or both), prior to the application being made
  • Digitally altered photos to support claims of relationship or identity

Examples of fraudulently obtained documents include:

  • An English language test result that was not achieved by applicant
  • A skills assessment obtained by providing false claims to a skills assessment body
  • A qualification issued to the applicant by a Registered Training Organisation that was obtained with false or misleading information

Examples of documents alleged issued for the applicant include:

  • A work reference created by someone who did not have the authority to represent the business, such as a co-worker or supervisor
  • A document belonging to another person that is presented to the department by the visa applicant as their own

Unlike in the case of misleading or false information, false documents do not need to be relevant to visa requirements to result in the application of PIC 4020. Simply the submission of a bogus document will result in the applicant being refused, or worse, banned from further visa grants where PIC 4020 is a requirement.



Evidence for identity are:

  • Documents that contain biographic information, such as name and date of birth
  • Information provided in the application about the applicant
  • Biometric evidence linking a person’s biographic information to physical attributes, including facial images and fingerprints

Inconsistent documentation, type of documentation and the source of the documentation all play a role in raising suspicions. Where there could be inconsistencies, such as different names on documents, evidence legal name change, for example, should be provided.


Situations that trigger further investigation

  • The applicant has previously withdrawn an application after being asked to provide comment on the suspected genuineness of a document given to the department
  • The applicant continues to request extensions of time in response to requests for further information by the department
  • The applicant has been assisted in their application by a person who is known to the department as having previously been associated with known or suspected fraudulent activity
  • The applicant has an immigration history that suggests they have provided false or misleading information in relation to previous visa applications
  • The applicant’s movements in and out of Australia while holding a temporary business visa suggest that further investigation is warranted regarding their genuine intention to undertake the employment relevant to their visa
  • The applicant’s claims are inconsistent with claims made previously by their sponsor in relation to their own migration history


Waiver provision

Where compelling or compassionate circumstances exist, PIC 4020 requirements may be waived (except in the case of false identity) but these circumstnaces are very difficult to prove. However in limited cases we have been able to satisfy the DIBP that such circumstances exist.

Read: Compelling and compassionate circumstances (PIC)

There’s only one way to conclude this, don’t do it! If it’s a genuine mistake, you are likely to find your way out of it. If it isn’t, you’re likely in trouble for a long time to come. The PIC 4020 will not result in a cancellation of your visa but will affect future visas, and PIC 4020 is a requirement for skilled migration, business, temporary, student and family visas, which is just about all the likely visas. If you find yourself in a tangle with PIC 4020, speak to an experienced migration agent. They may just be able to find you a way out or around it.