Under migration legislation relating to visitor visa applications, a decision maker must be satisfied that an applicant intends a genuine visit to a country and that they have their own, or access to, adequate funds to support themselves during the period of their stay. If the decision maker is not satisfied of this, the visa must not be granted.
While assertions, assurances or declarations from a third party are factors in the overall assessment, by themselves they are not sufficient evidence of a genuine visit. The onus is on the applicant to demonstrate an intention to make a genuine visit.
Of particular concern is “Economic Standing”, which includes personal solvency and a stable source of income linked to the applicant’s economy . Another important criterion is “Social Standing”, which means lots of ties to the applicant’s society and by extension, country. These and the other criteria are used to predict the probable outcome of issuing a visa to the applicant.
Relevant considerations in testing whether the applicant intends a genuine visit are based on the applicant’s personal circumstances, their situation in their country of citizenship and/or usual residence, and the situation of any person who supports their visit. They include (but are not limited to):
* the level of personal, financial, employment and other commitments which may induce the applicant to return to his or her country of usual residence
* the applicant’s personal circumstances or other conditions in their home country which may encourage the applicant to stay in the desired country, including the applicant’s economic situation, personal ties to the desired country and military service commitments; and civil or economic disruption in the applicant’s home country
* the applicant’s immigration history, including their previous overseas travel to the desired country and other countries and history of compliance with or breach of immigration law by the applicant
* the credibility of the applicant in terms of character and conduct
* whether the purpose of the applicant’s visit, the duration of stay proposed and any other plans which the applicant has made for the visit are consistent with tourism/visiting friends and relatives and with any period of leave from their employment
* the immigration activities in the desired country by other nationals from the applicant’s home country
* information disclosed in the application or otherwise obtained which indicates a reasonable likelihood that the applicant will not abide by visa conditions.
An applicant must also satisfy the decision-maker that they have funds of their own, or access to adequate funds, to cover the period of stay they are seeking and the activities they are proposing to undertake. If an applicant indicates they will be meeting part or all of their own expenses during their proposed visit, independent evidence, in the form of bank statements, is required. Cash and travellers cheques are most times not acceptable as evidence of funds.
For example, when applying for an Australian Tourist visa, the decision-making officer must also have regard to public interest criterion 4011 of the Migration Regulations where it is applicable. This criterion is also known as the risk factor criterion. This criterion requires that persons who have certain characteristics in common with people identified as presenting a relatively high risk of overstay must satisfy the decision-maker that there is very little likelihood that they will overstay their visas. Applicants who are subject to criterion 4011 are identified by objective criteria. These are:
* persons who have applied for permanent residence in the 5 years prior to making an application; or
* persons who have characteristics relating to nationality, age, sex, marital status, occupation and type of visa they are applying for, in common with a profile of people shown by statistics to have overstayed their authorised period of stay in the desired country.
For another example, a refusal citing ” The information submitted regarding the justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay was not reliable” usually means there was a hit on “Quality of Evidence” (trying to provide a personal attestation instead of hard evidence or otherwise using poor evidence). If this is combined with another hit and the applicant draws even a low to medium risk index, it almost certainly results in an unfavourable risk assessment.
In reaching a finding on the intention to make a genuine visit, officers are also required to draw on local experience in reaching a considered view of the level of risk posed by the visitor applicant. Visitor overstay rates, the level of incidence of visitors seeking longer term temporary or permanent residence once in the desired country, and local conditions which can contribute to a higher degree of non-compliance with visitor visa conditions form part of this context.
(Edited by Aboderin Ayotunde)