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Australian border officials struggle to contain influx of Malaysian visitors

CANBERRA (Australia): The Australian border officials are refusing visas to 20 Malaysian every week at Australian airports in a bid to check what officials describe orchestrated scam to enter Australia.

Australia has seen surge in the numbers of Malaysian visitors coming to Australia on electronic visitor visas, and then going on to apply for protection visas in a bid to stay longer.

In cases where authorities have rejected the protection visas, the Malaysians have appealed against the decision and extended their stays in the process.

The Government’s latest strategy to address the influx has emerged in new information being released as part of Senate estimates.

As per the information, between July 2017 and February 2019 1,779 Malaysians’ visas were cancelled before clearing immigration — more than 20 each week.

This represents almost one third of all removals, even though Malaysia provides fewer than one in 20 tourists to Australia.

Jason Wood, the new Minister for Multicultural Affairs, speaking before he took on that role, said the Malaysian visitors were making a bid to work around existing visa laws.

“This represents an orchestrated scam that provides protection visa applicants the right to work in Australia until their claims are finalised,” Mr Wood said.

At the end of 2018, of approximately 10,000 electronic visa holders who had overstayed their visa, three-quarters were from Malaysia.

The Government is now refusing entry to hundreds of Malaysians each year before they clear immigration at airports.

The trend is “concerning” due a lack of transparency, according to Asher Hirsch, a senior policy officer at the Refugee Council.