Two dozen foreigners have been caught hiring professional exam sitters to help get them Australian residency in a lucrative visa racket.
The Courier Mail, by Vanda Carson, 8 October 2014
And 17 more have been found to have changed their scores to turn a fail into a pass.
The mostly Indian students were desperate to pass their English tests because it is the only way they can get permanent residency in Australia.
Details of the racket were revealed in a series of decisions by Australia’s Migration Review Tribunal.
The migrants were nabbed when photos taken of the professional exam sitters who took the English test didn’t match the passport photos of the cheaters.
In September alone the tribunal refused the visa applications of four fraudsters who hired impostors to sit exams.
Industry sources say this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Nearly all the cheaters hired the stand-ins in their home countries of India and Sri Lanka, where cameras and finger print scanners have been installed in a bid to halt the massive racket.
A crackdown by Indian police in 2009 which led to the arrest of the kingpin of the scam has failed to stop it.
Even when they are caught, the fakers can continue to live in Australia for many years until they have exhausted all legal appeals.
In one case, Chinese woman Yang Guo cheated in her exam in June 2009 but was allowed to stay in Australia until the tribunal decided her matter five years later, in August this year.
Nearly all the cheaters refused to admit their guilt and came up with creative reasons why their photos didn’t match.
Ms Guo claimed her weight had ballooned after she sat the exam and she was wearing heavy makeup in the photo.
Reports in Indian newspapers say cheaters pay up to $2000 to pass the International English Language Testing System test by having “sitters” superimpose their photos on candidates’ passports.
In 2009 a Perth man was jailed for taking $32,000 from Indian students who cheated their English tests.
Nearly all the cheaters caught in recent months arrived in Australia on student visas many years ago and were trying to become permanent residents.
Among the cheaters are a truck driver who works for logistics company TNT, a chef at Primo Moraitis, which supplies salads to Coles, a Woolworths bakery worker from Sydney, a Sri Lankan Coles express worker, and a youth worker from Darwin who was offered a job by the NT Government. The Assistant Minister for Immigration declined to comment, citing the cheaters’ right to “privacy”.