The Public Interest Criteria or “PIC” 4020 is one of the eligibility requirements most applicants need to meet when they apply for an Australian Visa. This requirement applies to Skilled Visas, Business Visas, Student Visa, Family Visas and some other temporary visas.

This requirement was introduced by the Department as a mitigation strategy to increase the level of integrity in the visa application process. It discourages applicants from providing false or misleading information, bogus documents and prevents identity theft.

What is a bogus document?

A bogus document may be any document that:

  • Purports to have been issued in respect to a Person A, but Person B submits it to the department as their own.
  • Has been altered without the authority to do so.
  • Has been obtained because a false or misleading statement was given, even if the applicant is not aware. For example, your agent provided false documents have been presented to the assessing authority and a positive skills assessment has been issued.

When does PIC 4020 becomes relevant?

Basically, PIC 4020 becomes an issue if applicants have provided bogus document, false/misleading information or the Department is not satisfied as to their identity in relation to:


  • A visa held by the applicant in the last 12 months before the new application is made. Your visa does not need to have been cancelled for you to be caught by this PIC and


  • When there has been a previous visa refusal of the primary applicant or any the members of his/her family unit because of bogus documents, false/misleading information and/or identity theft.


What happens if I am affected by PIC 4020?

If you get caught by PIC 4020 because of bogus document and/or fake or misleading information, you will be banned for 3 years from being granted a visa, unless there are compelling circumstances that affect the interests of Australia or compassionate or compelling circumstances that affect an Australian Citizen, Permanent Resident or Eligible New Zealand Citizen (Waiver provisions).

On the other hand, if identity theft was the issue, you will be banned for 10 years and there is no waiver available.


“Purposefully falsified or provided”

Documents and/or statements that are misleading must have been “Purposefully falsified”.

This basically means that if it was an innocent mistake and you can prove it, you may be able to argue if PIC 4020 should not be applied to you. However, it is important to mention that it is not necessary for the visa applicant to be directly or knowingly involved in giving the bogus document or false/misleading information for PIC 4020 to be failed. For example, if your Registered Migration Agent purposefully falsified a document or any information without your consent, you will still be banned from being granted a visa.


You can find more information about meeting the Public Interest Criterion 4020 on the Department of Home Affairs’ website: