Home Affairs officer ‘cherry picked’ visa applications, investigation finds

By Jackson Graham

Thursday November 25, 2021

A former Home Affairs employee self-selected international student visa applicants based on nationality. (wirojsid/Adobe)

An investigation has found a former Home Affairs employee engaged in corruption by self-selecting international student visa applicants based on nationality. 

Integrity Commissioner Jaala Hinchcliffe conducted a joint investigation with Home Affairs into the NSW-based visa-processing officer, and found 12 visa applications of concern. 

The investigation found the officer picked a disproportionately high number of applications from Macedonian nationals, who made up about 36% of applications during the relevant period. 

Skype records showed the officer self-selected the applications, describing the activity as “cherry picking”, and instructed another team member how to avoid detection. 

Hinchcliffe said in a statement this showed the officer knew that they were going against policy.

The investigation found the officer not adhering with departmental procedures, and that practices created an unfairness in how the visa applications were processed.

“[They were] being intentionally dishonest when engaging in this conduct,” Hinchcliffe said. 

“The former employee’s behaviour was contrary to section 13 of the Public Service Act 1999 and contrary to their role and duties as a Visa Processing Officer and public servant.”

The staff member was suspended by Home Affairs when the investigation started and has since resigned.


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