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  • Department of Home Affairs visa – October 2015 to 2022–23 financial years

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) visa data-matching program has been operating since 2009.

    This protocol consolidates the existing visa data-matching programs:

    • October 2015 to 2016–17 financial years program (gazetted 4 August 2015)
    • 2017–18 to 2019–20 financial years program (gazetted 18 December 2017).

    This protocol outlines our intention to continue collecting data on visas granted in the period 2020–21 to 2022–23 financial years.

    For this program we collect information from the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs) on active and newly granted visas. The data is matched against our records to ensure visa holders, visa sponsors and migration agents are meeting their tax and superannuation obligations.

    Visa data is made available to ATO compliance staff to support our risk profiling and trend analysis of the visa population, smarter use of data helps improve our decisions, services and voluntary compliance.

    Visa data for 1 March 2020 to 28 March 2021 will be used to assist in confirming eligibility for the government's novel coronavirus (COVID-19) economic response, JobKeeper measure. The data will support pre-issue and post-issue compliance checks enabling us to follow-up potentially false or misleading declarations.

    This data-matching program follows the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s (OAIC) Guidelines on data matching in Australian Government administrationExternal Link (2014). The guidelines assist Australian Government agencies to use data-matching as an administrative tool in a way that complies with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) and the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) and are consistent with good privacy practice.

    We have a responsibility to protect public revenue and to maintain community confidence in the integrity of the tax and superannuation systems. Undertaking the Home Affairs visa data matching program will assist us in investigating and taking steps to mitigate fraud against public revenue.

    Find out about:

    Why we look at visa data

    Travellers coming to Australia for travel, work, study or migration need a visa appropriate for their reason for travel. Visas include different conditions on a person's stay in Australia including engagement with the tax and superannuation systems.

    The visa data-matching program will allow us to identify and address taxation risks in the population of visa holders, visa sponsors, and migration agents including:

    • helping process tax file number (TFN) registration for visa holders entering the country including tailored advice for TFN applicants' employers
    • ensuring appropriate taxation treatment is being applied by employers of visa holders including registration, lodgment, reporting and payment obligations for pay as you go (PAYG) withholding, fringe benefits tax and super guarantee
    • determining if applicants departing Australia are entitled to access superannuation
    • identifying taxpayers who incorrectly claim Australian residency in their income tax returns for financial gain
    • identifying incorrect tax refunds through pre-issue compliance work
    • identifying and cancelling Australian business numbers (ABNs) obtained and used inappropriately by visa holders as contractors, when they should be classified as employees
    • assessing ABN eligibility  
      • understanding visa holders who are applying for an ABN and whether their visa class allows them to hold an ABN
      • determining if an ABN should be cancelled as the ABN holder is no longer in the country
       
    • ensuring individuals are correctly entitled to COVID-19 JobKeeper payments
    • supporting Foreign Investment Program compliance activities including  
      • identifying people who are no longer foreign persons according to Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 and using this data to update the Foreign Ownership of Land and Water Entitlements register
      • identifying the foreign person status of property holders in Australia in regard to residential, commercial and agricultural land
      • identifying temporary residents holding multiple established dwellings and temporary residents renting out an established dwelling
      • monitoring temporary residents holding established dwellings to ensure disposal of their interest is within relevant timeframes
      • ascertaining whether a foreign person has been onshore for 183 days or more to confirm their residentially occupied statement in their lodged vacancy fee returns.
       

    Program objectives

    The objectives of this data-matching program are to:

    • promote voluntary compliance by communicating how we use external data to help encourage taxpayers to comply with their tax and super obligations
    • continue to refine our understanding of the visa population tax and super risks across  
      • visa holders
      • visa sponsors
      • migration agents
       
    • develop and implement treatment strategies to improve voluntary compliance; which may include educational or compliance activities as appropriate
    • help ensure visa populations fulfil their registration, lodgment, correct reporting and payment of tax and super obligations
    • test the accuracy and strengths of our existing risk detection models and treatment systems, and identify areas for improvement in our models, treatment systems and practices
    • identify potentially new or emergent approaches to fraud and those entities controlling or exploiting the visa framework
    • improve the integrity of the tax and superannuation systems by cancelling ineligible ABN holders
    • support compliance activities under Australia's foreign investment rules
    • identify and educate those individuals and businesses who may be failing to meet their registration or lodgment obligations and assist them to comply.

    How we use the data

    The visa data obtained from Home Affairs will be compared to our records as part of how we select taxpayers for compliance activities.

    Our detection models allow us to identify candidates for administrative actions. This program will help to improve our existing risk detection models and treatment systems through the identification of entities controlling or exploiting potentially new or emergent approaches to fraud.

    Our previous related programs

    The continued collection of visa data will be used in risk detection models and treatment systems that have been effective in mitigating compliance risks.

    Previous data matching programs have broadly achieved their stated goals, including:

    • tailored advice letters to TFN applicants and to both employers and employees following submission of TFN declarations
    • ABN verification program to identify temporary visa holders inappropriately obtaining an ABN as contractors, when they should be classified as employees
    • pre-issue compliance verification to monitor registration, lodgment, correct reporting and payment of tax and super obligations under our refund integrity program.

    Data provider

    We are the matching agency and the sole user of the data obtained in the course of this data-matching program.

    Data will be obtained from the Home Affairs as the sole data provider.

    Our formal information gathering powers

    The data will be obtained under our formal information gathering powers contained in section 353-10 of Schedule 1 to the Taxation Administration Act 1953.

    This is a coercive power that obligates the data provider to provide the information requested. We will use the information for tax and super compliance purposes.

    Privacy Act

    Data will only be used within the limits prescribed by Australian Privacy Principle 6 (APP6) contained in Schedule 1 of the Privacy Act 1988 and in particular:

    • APP6.2(b) – the use of the information is required or authorised by an Australian law
    • APP6.2(e) – the ATO reasonably believes that the use of the information is reasonably necessary for our enforcement-related activities.

    Keeping data safe

    The data-matching program will be conducted on our secure systems that comply with the requirements of the:

    All ATO systems are strictly controlled according to Australian Government security standards for government ICT systems, with features including:

    • system access controls and security groupings
    • login identification codes and password protection
    • full audit trails of data files and system accesses.

    We will use our secure internet-based data transfer facility to obtain the data from the source entity.

    Data elements collected

    Data will be collected from Home Affairs between 2020–21and 2022–23 financial years for:

    • base population cohort of active visas meeting the criteria
    • address history for visa applicants and sponsors
    • contact history for visa applicants and sponsors
    • all visa grants
    • visa grant status by point in time
    • migration agents (visa application preparer who assisted or facilitated the processing of the visa)
    • address history for migration agents
    • contact history for migration agents
    • all international travel movements undertaken by visa holders (arrivals and departures)
    • sponsor details (457 visa)
    • visa subclass name.

    See also:

    Number of records

    The number of individuals affected by this data collection is expected to be approximately 10 million each financial year.

    Data quality

    We anticipate the data quality will be of a high standard based on our prior visa data matching.

    Data will be transformed into a standardised format and validated to ensure it contains the required data elements before loading to our systems. We undertake program evaluations to measure effectiveness before determining whether to continue to collect future years of the data or to discontinue the program.

    To assure data is fit for use and maintains integrity throughout the data-matching program, it is assessed against the 11 elements of the ATO data-quality framework:

    • accuracy
    • completeness
    • consistency
    • currency
    • precision
    • privacy
    • reasonableness
    • referential integrity
    • timeliness
    • uniqueness
    • validity.

    Data retention

    The collection of data under this program includes October 2015 to 30 June 2023. The data collection is quarterly in February, May, August and November.

    For the period between July 2020 and March 2021, the data for this program will be collected monthly to support the temporary COVID-19 JobKeeper measure.

    The ATO was granted an exemption by the Privacy Commissioner to retain the data for three years for the prior two visa data-matching programs. The exemption request was required to satisfy the National Archives of Australia's General Disposal Authority 24 (GDA24) – Records relating to data matching exercises. GDA24 has now been revoked.

    We destroy data that is no longer required, in accordance with the Archives Act 1983, the records authorities issued by the National Archives of Australia, both general and ATO-specific.

    We will retain each new financial year’s data for five years from receipt of the final instalment of verified data files from the data provider. The data is required for this period for the protection of public revenue as:

    • visas frequently cover periods longer than a single financial year
    • taxpayers on occasion lodge tax returns and forms past the ordinary due date, particularly those visiting Australia and perhaps less familiar with our tax and superannuation systems. Without continued access to this data for the period outlined, we would experience challenges in verifying information to identify taxpayers who should be the subject of administrative activities
    • the data enhances our ability to identify taxpayers who may not be complying with their tax and super obligations, which is integral to protecting the integrity of the tax and superannuation systems
    • retaining data for five years supports our general compliance approach of reviewing an assessment within the standard period of review, which also aligns with the requirements for taxpayers to keep their records
    • the data is also used in multiple risk models, including models that establish retrospective profiles over multiple years aligned with period of review.

    While increased data-retention periods may increase the risk to privacy, we have a range of safeguards to appropriately manage and minimise this risk. Our systems and controls are designed to ensure the privacy and security of the data we manage.

    Data dictionary

    The data dictionary outlines detailed data elements collected.

    01_ATO_ACTIVE_VISAS

    Base population cohort of active visas meeting the criteria

    Description

    Field name

    Person Identifier (PID)

    PRSN_ID

    Person Identifier (PID) Text

    PRSN_ID_TX

    Client Identifier

    CLIENT_ID

    Client Visa Subclass Code

    VISA_SBCLS_CD

    Client Visa Grant Number

    VISA_GRANT_NR

    02_ATO_MOVEMENTS

    All international travel movements undertaken by visa holders (arrivals and departures)

    Description

    Field name

    Client Visa Grant Number

    VISA_GRANT_NUMBER

    Movement Direction (Arrival or Departure)

    MOVEMENT_DIRECTION

    Movement Timestamp

    MOVEMENT_TS

    Person Identifier (PID)

    PRSN_ID

    Person Identifier (PID) Text

    PRSN_ID_TX

    Client Identifier

    CLIENT_ID

    Client Visa Subclass Code

    VISA_SBCLS_CD

    03_ATO_VISA_GRANTS

    History of visas granted (active visas)

    Description

    Field name

    Client Visa Grant Number

    VISA_GRANT_NR

    Person Identifier (PID)

    PRSN_ID

    Person Identifier (PID) Text

    PRSN_ID_TX

    Client Visa Subclass Code

    VISA_SBCLS_CD

    Visa subclass sub stream

    VISA_STREAM_CD

    Visa Grant Date

    VISA_GRANT_DT

    Country that issued the travel document

    CITZ_CNTRY_CD

    Client Travel Document Identifier

    TRVL_DOC_ID

    Visa Grant Entry Expiry Date

    VISA_ENTRY_EXPRY_DT

    Visa stay number of days allowed

    VISA_STAY_DAYS_NR

    Number of entries allowed (No Entry, Single Entry, Multiple Entry)

    VISA_ENTRS_ALWD_CD

    Client Birth Country

    BIRTH_CNTRY_CD

    Client Birth Date

    BIRTH_DT

    Client Family Name or Surname

    FAMILY_NAME

    Client First Given Name or First Given Initial

    GIVEN_NAME

    Client Applicant Type (Primary or Secondary)

    APPLNT_TYPE_CD

    Visa CASE Identifier

    VA_CASE_ID

    HA Source Processing System

    SOURCE_SYSTEM

    Condition 8501

    CONDITION_8501_Cd

    04_ATO_PERSON_VISA_STATUS

    Person visa status at a point in time

    Description

    Field name

    Person Identifier (PID)

    PRSN_ID

    Person Identifier (PID) Text

    PRSN_ID_TX

    Client Identifier

    CLIENT_ID

    Client Lawful Status (e.g. onshore – Lawful)

    LAWFUL_STATUS_DS

    Client Lawful Status snapshot date

    LAWFUL_STATUS_DT

    Client Visa Grant Number

    VISA_GRANT_NR

    Client Visa In Effect Until Date

    VISA_IN_EFFECT_UNTIL_DT

    Client Visa Subclass Code

    VISA_SBCLS_CD

    05_ATO_CLIENT_ADRS

    Address history for visa applicants and sponsors

    Description

    Field name

    Client Identifier

    CLIENT_ID

    Date of Effect From

    ADDRESS_EF_DT

    Date of Effect To

    ADDRESS_ET_DT

    Address Type (Residential, Postal, Business, Residential other, Postal other, Business other)

    ADDRESS_TYPE_DS

    Client First Line of the Address

    ADDRESS_LINE_1

    Client Second Line of the Address

    ADDRESS_ LINE_2

    Client Third Line of the Address

    ADDRESS_ LINE_3

    Client Fourth Line of the Address

    ADDRESS_ LINE_4

    The Suburb, Town or City of the Address

    ADDRESS_LOCALITY

    The State or Territory of the Address

    ADDRESS_STATE

    The Postcode of the Address

    ADDRESS_POSTCODE

    Country Code

    ADDRESS_COUNTRY

    06_ATO_CLIENT_CONTACT

    Contact history for visa applicants and sponsors

    Description

    Field name

    Client Identifier

    CLIENT_ID

    Date of Effect From

    CONTACT_EF_DT

    Date of Effect To

    CONTACT_ET_DT

    Contact Type (Residential, Postal, Business, Residential other, Postal other, Business other)

    CONTACT_TYPE_DS

    Contact Phone number

    CONTACT_PHONE_NR

    Fax number

    CONTACT_FAX_NR

    Email address

    CONTACT_EMAIL

    07_AGENT_CASE

    Agent reference table

    Description

    Field name

    Visa Application Case Identifier

    VA_CASE_ID

    Source system

    SOURCE_SYSTEM

    Agent Added Date

    AGT_ADDED_DT

    Agent Identifier

    AGT_ID

    Migration Agent Number Identifier

    AGT_MARN

    Agent Type Code

    AGT_TYPE_CD

    08_ATO_MGRNT_AGT

    Migration agents (visa application preparer who assisted or facilitated the processing of the visa)

    Description

    Field name

    Agent Identifier

    AGT_ID

    Agent Migration Agent Registration Number text

    AGT_MARN_TX

    Migration Agent Title

    AGT_NAME_TITLE_TX

    Migration Agent Family Name or Surname

    AGT_FMLY_NM

    Migration Agent First Given Name or First Given Initial

    AGT_GIVEN_NM

    Migration Agent Second Given Name or Second Given Initial

    AGT_SCND_GVN_NM

    09_ATO_MGRNT_AGT_ADRS

    Address history for migration agents

    Description

    Field name

    Agent Identifier

    AGT_ID

    Date of Effect From

    ADDRESS_EF_DT

    Date of Effect To

    ADDRESS_ET_DT

    Address Type (Residential, Postal, Business, Residential other, Postal other, Business other)

    ADDRESS_TYPE_DS

    Client First Line of the Address

    ADDRESS_LINE_1

    Client Second Line of the Address

    ADDRESS_ LINE_2

    Client Third Line of the Address

    ADDRESS_ LINE_3

    Client Fourth Line of the Address

    ADDRESS_ LINE_4

    The Suburb, Town or City of the Address

    ADDRESS_LOCALITY

    The State or Territory of the Address

    ADDRESS_STATE

    The Postcode of the Address

    ADDRESS_POSTCODE

    Country Code

    ADDRESS_COUNTRY

    10_ATO_MGRNT_AGT_CONTACT

    Contact history for migration agents

    Description

    Field name

    Agent Identifier

    AGT_ID

    Date of Effect From

    CONTACT_EF_DT

    Date of Effect To

    CONTACT_ET_DT

    Contact Type (Residential, Postal, Business, Residential other, Postal other, Business other)

    CONTACT_TYPE_DS

    Contact Phone number

    CONTACT_PHONE_NR

    Fax number

    CONTACT_FAX_NR

    Email address

    CONTACT_EMAIL

    11_ATO_SPONSORS

    Sponsor details

    Description

    Field name

    Nomination CASE Identifier

    CASE_ID

    HA Source Processing System Code

    SOURCE_SYSTEM_CD

    Process Type Code - Source information comes from one of two application form types.

    NM = Nomination application, SP = Sponsorship application

    PROCESS_TYPE_CD

    Visa CASE Identifier

    VA_CASE_ID

    Sponsor Visa Subclass Code

    SP_VISA_SBCLS_CD

    Sponsor Identifier

    SP_CLIENT_ID

    Sponsor Family Name or (Business Employer Name)

    SP_NAME

    Sponsor First Given Name or First Given Initial

    SP_GIVEN_NAME

    Sponsor Title

    SP_TITLE

    Sponsor ABN (Australian Business Number)

    SP_ABN_TX

    Nominated Base Salary $ Amount

    NM_SALARY

    Nominated Total Remuneration $ Amount

    NM_TOTAL_RMNRTN

    Post code of work location

    NM_LOCN_PC

    Occupation code of worker

    NM_OCPTN_CD

    ANZSCO = 3, ASCO = 2

    NM_OCPTN_TYPE_CD

    Visa to nomination link date

    VA_LINK_EF_DT

    Visa to nomination link end date

    VA_LINK_ET_DT

    12_ATO_STUDENT_ED_PRVDR

    Education providers (educational institution where the student visa holder intends to undertake their study)

    Description

    Field name

    Visa CASE Identifier

    VA_CASE_ID

    HA Source Processing System Code

    VA_SOURCE_SYSTEM_CD

    Educational Provider Code Number

    PROVIDER_CD

    REF_VISA_SUBCLASS

    Visa subclass name

    Description

    Name

    Client Visa Subclass Code

    VISA_SBCLS_CD

    Client Visa Subclass Name

    VISA_SBCLS_DS

    Reporting Category 1 Code

    REPORTING_CTGRY1_CD

    Reporting Category 1 Description

    REPORTING_CTGRY1_DS

    Entry Type Code

    ENTRY_TYPE_CD

    Entry Type Description

    ENTRY_TYPE_DS

    Visa selection method definitions

    Data will be extracted and transferred to the ATO in batches each quarter in the focus period. The first three batches for the 2020–21 financial year will be collected monthly to support the COVID-19 measure. The batches to be collected are:

    • 1/07/2020 to 31/07/2020
    • 01/08/2020 to 31/08/2020
    • 01/09/2020 to 30/9/2020
    • 01/10/2020 to 31/10/2020
    • 01/11/2020 to 30/11/2020
    • 01/12/2020 to 31/12/2020
    • 01/01/2021 to 31/01/2021
    • 01/02/2021 to 28/02/2021
    • 01/03/2021 to 31/03/2021
    • 01/04/2021 to 30/06/2021
    • 01/07/2021 to 30/09/2021
    • 01/10/2021 to 31/12/2021
    • 01/01/2022 to 31/03/2022
    • 01/04/2022 to 30/06/2022
    • 01/07/2022 to 30/09/2022
    • 01/10/2022 to 31/12/2022
    • 01/01/2023 to 31/03/2023
    • 01/04/2023 to 30/06/2023
    Selection method descriptions

    Table name

    Selection method description

    Base population cohort of active visas

    Active visas that have been granted one or more visas and stayed in Australia for any part or the whole focus period

    Address history for visa applicants and sponsors

    10 years of address history required for all in the base population cohort

    Contact history for visa applicants and sponsors

    10 years of contact history required for all in the base population cohort

    History of visas granted (active visas)

    10 years of history of ALL granted visas for all in the base population cohort (not limited by focus period)

    Person visa status at a point in time

    Snapshot records within the focus period for all in the base population cohort

    Migration agents (visa application preparer who assisted or facilitated the processing of the visa)

    All migration agents with a link to one or more in the base population cohort

    Address history for migration agents

    10 years of address history required for migration agents with a link to one or more in the base population cohort

    Contact history for migration agents

    10 years of contact history required for migration agents with a link to one or more in the base population cohort

    All international travel movements undertaken by visa holders (arrivals and departures)

    10 years of history of ALL travel movements for all in the base population cohort (not limited by focus period)

    Sponsor details (457 visa)

    All sponsors with a link to one or more in the base population cohort

    Education providers (educational institution where the student visa holder intends to undertake their study)

    All education providers with a link to one or more in the base population cohort

    Visa subclass name

    All visa subclass names with a link to one or more in the base population cohort

    See also:

    Public notification of the program

    We will notify the public of our intention to collect 2020–21 to 2022–23 data by:

    • publishing a notice in the Federal Register of Legislation gazette the week commencing 2 November 2020
    • publishing this data-matching program protocol on our website at ato.gov.au/dmprotocols
    • advising the data providers  
      • they can notify their clients of their participation in this program
      • the Privacy PolicyExternal Link on Department of Home Affairs website includes that personal information is disclosed to ATO for data-matching purposes.
       

    Gazette notice content

    The following information about the data-matching program appears as a gazette notice in the Federal Register of Legislation.

    Commissioner of Taxation – Notice of a data-matching program

    The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will acquire visa data from the Department of Home Affairs for 2020–21 through to 2022–23. The data items include:

    • Address history for visa applicants and sponsors.
    • Contact history for visa applicants and sponsors.
    • All visa grants.
    • Visa grant status by point in time.
    • Migration agents (visa application preparer who assisted or facilitated the processing of the visa).
    • Address history for migration agents.
    • Contact history for migration agents.
    • All international travel movements undertaken by visa holders (arrivals and departures).
    • Sponsor details
    • Education providers (educational institution where a student visa holder intends to undertake their study).
    • Visa subclass name.

    We estimate records relating to approximately 10 million individuals will be obtained each financial year.

    The data will be acquired and matched with ATO data holdings to identify non-compliance with obligations under taxation and superannuation laws.

    These obligations may include registration, lodgment, reporting and payment responsibilities.

    The objectives of this program are to:

    • promote voluntary compliance by communicating how we use external data to help encourage taxpayers to comply with their tax and superannuation obligations
    • continue to refine our understanding of the visa population tax and superannuation risks across:  
      • visa holders
      • visa sponsors
      • migration agents
       
    • develop and implement treatment strategies to improve voluntary compliance; which may include educational or compliance activities as appropriate
    • help ensure visa populations fulfil their registration, lodgment, correct reporting and payment of tax and superannuation obligations
    • test the accuracy and strengths of our existing risk detection models and treatment systems, and identify areas for improvement in our models, treatment systems and practices
    • identify potentially new or emergent approaches to fraud and those entities controlling or exploiting the visa framework
    • improve the integrity of the taxation and superannuation systems by cancelling ineligible ABN holders
    • support compliance activities under Australia's foreign investment rules
    • identify and educate those individuals and businesses who may be failing to meet their registration and/or lodgment obligations and assist them to comply.

    A document describing this program is available at ato.gov.au/dmprotocols.

    This program follows the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s Guidelines on data matching in Australian Government administration (2014) (the guidelines). The guidelines include standards for the use data-matching as an administrative tool in a way that complies with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) and the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) and are consistent with good privacy practice.

    A full copy of the ATO’s privacy policy can be accessed at ato.gov.au/privacy.

      Last modified: 15 Feb 2021QC 64111