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Backpackers deported from Australia for faking employment details

Backpackers on working holiday visas in Australia must be able to show that they have worked for 88 days in specific occupations (generally agricultural) within regional Australia, if they wish to extend their stay beyond a year. Some British backpackers are currently facing deportation for submitting fake work details in their visa applications, via a third party named “Golden Fish” who offer to provide the false information for a fee of up to $1,000 each (the equivalent of £535.30 GBP). Backpackers from the UK seem to be specifically targeted by the company, who require the individuals to complete a 29 point questionnaire and a fee, upon visa approval.

The Guardian were aware of almost 20 people set to be deported from Australia for this reason, however the real number may be more.

One backpacker stated that the use of Golden Fish’s services was common practice, commenting, “this is huge, it’s everyone I know” and that the company’s email was commonly passed around the backpacker community.

The problem worsened during the Covid-19 crisis when Australia closed their international border and restricted interstate movement, as many backpackers reported struggling to find enough work for their visas.

Brisbane lawyer Ellison McMullen stated that in each of the eight cases she had worked on, all individuals had tried to get the necessary farm work but there just wasn’t enough of it to allow them to fulfil their visa requirements. Golden Fish offered a service which benefitted desperate backpackers facing almost immediate deportation. McMullen said: “Fruit picking is seasonal and they move around the states, but they weren’t able to do that.”

This is just one example of many, which demonstrates the lengths to which organised criminals will go, in order to exploit vulnerable individuals (who are in this instance, at risk of deportation).

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