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Public Interest Criteria 4020

What is PIC 4020?

Public Interest Criteria 4020 (or commonly known as ‘PIC 4020’) is often an effective tool used by the Department of Home Affairs (‘DoHA’) to discourage visa applicants from providing false and misleading information or bogus documents to DoHA. If you have received a letter from DoHA which states or suggests that you have provided a bogus document or false or misleading information to DoHA or any other relevant agency/department (such as Administrative Appeals Tribunal, relevant skills assessing authority, etc.), then there are chances that your visa application may be refused. Further, depending upon the allegation(s) made by DoHA, you may be banned for 3 or 10 years from Australia, unless you challenge the refusal decision at AAT and you convince the AAT to either waive the PIC 4020 or declare that you do satisfy PIC 4020.

How PIC 4020 Criteria may be satisfied?

Most visas require you (as a visa applicant) to satisfy the visa officer that:


  • You have not provided any bogus document(s) or information that is false or misleading concerning a visa application, or a visa that you held in the 12 months before the existing application was made.

  • You and each member of your family unit have not been refused a visa in the last three years based on providing bogus documents or false or misleading information concerning a visa application. The three-year period starts from the day the current visa application was made and ends when the visa is granted or refused.

  • You satisfy the visa officer/decision-maker with regard to your and other applicants’ (included in the application) identity.

  • You or any family unit members have not been refused a visa based on providing bogus or counterfeit documents in the period starting 10 years before the visa application was made and ending when the visa was granted or refused.

When You May Be Found to Have Failed PIC4020

The Department does not need to prove that you have submitted false or misleading information to satisfy a visa criterion. All they need is some sort of indication to suggest that any of your important documents or critical information is fake or false. Whether or not incorrect information is likely to cause serious complications in your visa application processing largely depends on the nature of the information as well as the type of visa you have applied for.

Submission of ‘bogus documents’ with a visa application is often very difficult to explain because the courts generally find it hard to believe that a bogus document was mistakenly prepared and provided or was provided without the knowledge of the applicant (if the applicant states that he/she does not know whether a bogus document was attached with their application).

For instance, you may fail to satisfy PIC4020 because of:

  • providing incorrect information about you or your family members (e.g. names, marital status, visa refusals, etc.)

  • providing incorrect details or documents relating to your academic qualifications

  • providing false documents relating to your work experience or expertise (if establishing work experience is an important component of your visa application)

  • providing a forged, counterfeit, fake passport, identity card, birth certificate, etc.


However, an innocent mistake or irrelevant information is unlikely to fatally damage your visa application. For instance, if there had been a typo on your visa application that can readily and sufficiently be explained with reference to documentary evidence, then the decision-maker may excuse such an innocent mistake.

Things to Consider

  • DoHA letter that ‘invites’ you to comment on false or misleading information or a bogus document comes with a deadline. You must take good note of that deadline and must provide your submission/response in a well-structured and persuasive manner BEFORE the deadline passes.

  • Also, you must consider providing any further evidence to convince the decision-maker that you have not provided any such false or misleading information or bogus documents (if you have not provided one). Or, explain to the decision-maker as to why such information or a bogus document was provided and why your visa should not be refused (or cancelled) despite your failure to satisfy PIC4020.

See Our Blog(s) On PIC 4020

  • Search “PIC 4020”, and "Public Interest Criteria 4020" on our Blogs page or read AAT Merits Review.

If you need our assistance with your PIC 4020 submissions/responses, feel free to Contact Us.

Warning! Please note that Australian immigration laws and policies are highly complex and dynamic. Therefore, no information provided on this website in relation to Australian immigration laws and policies (or on any other matter) is intended to be legal advice. Please read our Terms and Conditions.

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