In 2010, an Irishwoman was forced to leave Australia after being found to have falsified details on her application for a second working holiday visa.
Aoife (not her real name) told the Irish Echo about the experience and what led to her deportation.
“I arrived in Australia in March 2009 on a one-year visa. I really liked it and I decided I wanted to stay for the second year. I had completed five weeks of regional work in Bundaberg, but work dried up and I left.
“I went to Ayr to complete my three months’ regional work.
“When I got there, there was a waiting list a mile long and I had pretty much run out of cash. I needed a job asap, so I went to Melbourne at the end of August.
“I started working in an office and I didn’t get around to doing the rest of the regional work. A friend of a friend told me about this farmer who would sign off my forms saying I had worked for him, for a small fee. I did that and got my second year visa.
“I decided to go to Fiji for a holiday in August 2010. On the way back, I was going through Sydney airport en route to Melbourne when immigration called me in. They started grilling me about the work I had supposedly done in Victoria. After hours of questioning, they found a memory card from my camera in my suitcase.
“It showed that I was bungy jumping in Cairns when I was supposed to be picking berries in Victoria. I tried to fob them off by saying that I only went to Cairns for the weekend but they saw photos that were taken over a three-week period, and I was caught.
“They wanted me to tell them about the farmer that signed me off but I didn’t think it was of any benefit to get him into trouble.
“They said I’d have to go home. I was gutted – I couldn’t believe it was happening. I pleaded with them and asked if I could go to New Zealand to stay with my brother and they said no, they wouldn’t want me either.
“They said if I didn’t have money for a flight back to Ireland, I would have to go to a detention centre, which freaked the hell out of me.
“Luckily, I had been saving to travel the west coast and I had the money. A one-way flight to London cost nearly $2,000 but I didn’t care at that stage.
“I didn’t get to say any goodbyes or get to collect any of my stuff.
“I was escorted onto the plane by a man from British Airways and two security guards, which I thought was a bit much. I know I broke the rules but I was hardly a danger to anyone.
“It was horrible coming home, as I loved living in Australia so much. I had a good life there and I was not ready to come home, but c’est la vie …
“When I came back, I tried to get the one-year working holiday visa for New Zealand but they wouldn’t give it to me.”