Pair accused of organising fraudulent marriages

A former migration agent has appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court charged with arranging fraudulent marriages for the purpose of obtaining permanent visas to Australia. Chetan Mohanlal Mashru and his wife, marriage celebrant Divya Krishne Gowde, are charged with 17 counts of arranging marriages to obtain visas. A Department of Immigration official has told the court that up to 50 visa applicants could have been married by Ms Gowda over a 2 year period from 2011 to 2012. Mr Mashru is also charged with 23 counts of influencing a public official and a further 19 counts of delivering false information.

Subdivision B of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) contains several sections which deal with various circumstances in which applicants and sponsors enter into fraudulent relationships for the purpose of obtaining visas, and the case of Mashru and Gowda serves as a timely reminder of the harsh penalties imposed on those who attempt to obtain visas to Australia through fraudulent means.

Under sections 240 of the Migration Act, it is an offence punishable by 10 years imprisonment or a $100,000 fine to arrange a marriage between two people for the purpose of helping one of those people obtain a permanent visa in Australia. It should be noted that section 240 applies whether or not the intention to arrange the marriage is achieved and the marriage actually occurs.

Further, it is also an offence under section 241 of the Act to arrange a relationship in which the persons appear to be de facto partners for the purposes of obtaining a permanent visa in Australia, the penalty for which is the same as that set out in section 240.

Finally, it is an offence under section 245 of the Act to make statements in relation to whether or not persons are in a genuine relationship, a de facto relationship, or a relationship of interdependency where the statements are false or unsupported, and the punishment for committing an offence under this section is punishable by 12 months imprisonment.

Ensure that you disclose legitimate and true information when dealing with your registered migration agent as it can have drastic consequences on your visa application.

If you have any questions regarding Australian visas or would like to begin your visa application, please contact us today.

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