The most recent covid outbreak in Australia and the reduction in international travel caps has seen an increase in the level of scrutiny placed on travel exemptions and visas for business travellers by the Australian Border Force.
Travel exemptions that were once readily approved are not being approved as easily and the evidentiary burden is now a lot higher. Only those with a genuine and critical need for travel are being approved, with the Australian Border Force asking for additional proof of the urgent and critical nature of the work.
With that, travel exemptions and work visas for businesses and their employees are not impossible to get, but will require a qualified immigration specialist, like The Migration Agency, to help with the process.
In this blog, we will share how TMA got a travel exemption and visa approved for a regtech company that is helping to secure Australia’s banking system and reshape our economic future.
CASE STUDY: How TMA got a travel exemption approved for a regtech company
Our client, a reg-tech company, helps with financial crime prevention, working with banks and financial institution clients to track and correctly report all international transactions to reduce the risk of fraud or crime.
However, to qualify for a travel exemption, this person needed to have critical skills or work in a critical sector. She was employed as a ICT Business Analyst, which is not itself a priority occupation. To devise a solution, we looked at the critical sector exemption pathway, did research into the client’s industry and the problem they solve in the marketplace, and created arguments to connect their business activities with Australia’s economic recovery.
Real-life example of international financial reporting violation
One of the most serious violations of international financial reporting in recent years was Westpac. In September 2020, Westpac was fined $1.3 billion dollars for breaching the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act), when it failed to report more than 23 million occasions, exposing Australia’s financial system to criminal exploitation. (Source: Austrac)
On the Austrac website, it states that Westpac admitted that it failed to:
- Properly report over 19.5 million International Funds Transfer Instructions (IFTIs) amounting to over $11 billion dollars to AUSTRAC.
- Pass on information relating to the origin of some of these international funds transfers, and to pass on information about the source of funds to other banks in the transfer chain, which these banks needed to manage their own ML/TF risks.
- Keep records relating to the origin of some of these international funds transfers.
- Appropriately assess and monitor the risks associated with the movement of money into and out of Australia through its correspondent banking relationships, including with known higher risk jurisdictions.
- Carry out appropriate customer due diligence in relation to suspicious transactions associated with possible child exploitation.
Given the role that our regtech client plays to address these issues in Australia’s financial sector, we argued that the client clearly falls within the critical sector of the financial and banking industry and is assisting with Australia’s economic recovery.
Here’s how TMA was successful in obtaining the travel exemption
Situation: Financial crime is becoming more and more prevalent in Australia. As a requirement, all international transactions over a certain limit must be reported to Austrac to flag any unusual or improper activities. Our client has a platform that ensures international transactions have all the relevant information for Austrac, while flagging missing information, and maintaining regulatory compliance. Our client was implementing its platform to the Australian operations of a global banking client.
Issue: The company needed to bring one of its business analysts and subject matter experts from Hong Kong to Australia to help with the rollout of this platform in Australia. This particular employee had been successful in rolling out the system in Hong Kong and had key knowledge about the client’s organisation and systems.
Approach: To have the travel exemption and subclass 482 work visa approved, TMA developed a strategy to enable the business and applicant to meet both the exemption and visa criteria. We looked at what attempts the company had made locally to fill the role and how the business was working in a critical sector – finance and regulatory technology.
Interestingly, the company was knocked back in its first attempt to have the travel exemption approved. This was largely due to a shift in approach by the ABF decision makers following the snap lockdowns across Australia and the reduction in the number of international arrivals. Fortunately, there is no adverse consequence of a travel exemption refusal, and we developed a re-lodgement strategy to maximise our client’s chances of success.
When we resubmitted, we led with an extremely detailed submission of how it was supporting Australian banks and our economy, Australian consumers and those who are vulnerable, and who may also fall victim to Australian financial crime.
We researched the economic impact of financial crime in Australia – referencing the Hayne report, a Royal Commission report around financial crime – and had a comprehensive understanding of the business and an in-depth knowledge of its products to show how Australia could benefit in the long term.
We supplied supporting evidence of the visa applicant’s role in the successful outcome of the rollout in Hong Kong and we supplied a letter from the company’s client that confirmed this person was critical to the next rollout.
Outcome: The exemption and visa were approved, however, there was a substantial level of extra detail and work needed in order for this application to be successful.
The HR manager of our client gave us a 10/10 net promoter score citing the experience as: “Fantastic. It has been such a pleasure working with Vanessa and I have so much confidence referring her/TMA to my clients”.
She also gave feedback on our responsiveness and problem-solving skills, stating we would “always find a solution, particularly when the situation is not standard or requires some creative thinking”.
“My experience, particularly with Vanessa, is that she doesn’t give up and will continue to work on something until we have the outcome we need.”
This case demonstrates how our team lives by the TMA values of “Be WOW” and “We get it sorted”.
Do you need a travel exemption and visa for your business?
The best chance to have travel exemptions and visas approved in the current climate means having an immigration specialist, such as TMA, on your team.
We can help with your travel exemptions and visa requirements. We also offer second opinions to businesses and individuals who have not been able to secure a travel exemption, or those who have been advised that their situation would not qualify for an exemption. Simply get in touch here.