The ABF is investigating my business, What I must do?

If you are an employer who sponsors or nominates foreign workers, there are some essential obligations which you must comply with. Your business can face some consequences for breaching these obligations, one of these consequences is being investigated by the Australian Border Force.

The ABF is an independent body within the Department of Home Affairs, it is the Australia’s frontline border law enforcement agency and customs service. They provide a significantly border protection and national security outcomes while facilitating the movement of people and goods across the border.
The ABF in addition to dealing with customs and immigration processing, border protection, the ABF enforces Australia’s immigration laws and regulations, including visa and citizenship requirements, furthermore, it investigates immigration crimes such people smuggling and visa fraud, for example the ABF ensures that people granted visas to enter Australia comply with their visa conditions, including visa work rights and length of stay.

How Will I know if my business is under ABF Investigation?
If your business is under of ABF Investigation, it does not mean that you will be immediately aware of it, however, some signs may indicate that the ABF is investigating your business.
The ABF officers may conduct unannounced visits to your business premises to verify the identity and work rights of employees, examine employment records to see if your business and your employees are complying with the immigration laws and regulations.

The ABF can request some information from your business such as details of your employees, records of employment and information about your business operations, if your business is not complying with the immigration laws and regulations, your business will receive a notice of non-compliance, which can lead to further investigation and penalties.
Be aware that the ABF can be contacted by third parts to investigate your business, some employees and individuals can report suspected non-compliance to ABF, consequently, can trigger an investigation.

My Business is Under ABF Investigation
You must comply with all applicable immigration law and regulations, you can seek for a legal advice, an immigration lawyer can help you understand your rights and obligations and guide you through the investigation process. Another point that should be followed, is to cooperate fully with the ABF investigation, being proactive in the investigation, providing all requested information and documents, answering any questions truthfully and allowing ABF officers to access your premises if necessary.
No cooperation with the ABF officers, is likely to be an aggravating factor in any consequences the ABF imposes on your business.

Review your Business Practices
Review your Business Practices will assure you that your business complies with all applicable immigration laws and regulations. This includes ensuring that all employees are legally authorised to work in Australia. Furthermore, you must keep accurate records of their employment and visa status, this is the best way to avoid any consequences.

ABF identified a non-compliance in your Business
If your business was identified as non-compliance, you should take immediate corrective action. This means that you should terminate the employment of unauthorized workers, implementing new policies and procedures to ensure compliance with immigration laws and regulations.

The ABF has the power to take a range of enforcement actions, depending on the business. This is because ABF has the power to take a range of enforcement actions depending on the severity of the non-compliance and other mitigating and aggravating factors.

Based on the relevant findings, failure of an ABF investigation can bring some significant consequences for your business. See below some of the consequences that can happen:

  • Cancellation of current sponsorships, nominations, or visas under the sponsorship
  • Bars imposed on future sponsorships, nominations, or visas for specified periods.
  • If your business is found to be employing workers who do not have a valid visa for work rights, the ABF may cancel their visas, leading them to leave Australia.
  • The penalties fees can reach $85,000 for non-compliance with immigration laws and regulations.
  • If ABF finds out a serious case of non-compliance the ABF may refer the matter to the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP), which can result in criminal charges and potential imprisonment.
  • In extreme cases, the ABF may take action to close down your business if it is found to be engaging in serious non compliance with immigration laws and regulations.

Written by Ross Ahmadzai

6 Apr, 2024

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