More than 12 Irish people have been deported from Australia over the past two weeks for immigration fraud.

Australian authorities detained the Irish nationals as they returned from trips to Ireland over Christmas.

Authorities say the Irish people involved had lied on their applications for what is known as second-year Working Holiday Visas.

The second-year WHVs are only available to people who worked in agriculture for three months while they were on their first WHV.

Those deported were held in Sydney and Brisbane airports after the long flight back from Ireland.

Some were held overnight at a detention facility in Sydney before being put on a plane while others were put on the next available flight without being held overnight.

A popular scam involves paying about $500 for information about a farm which employed backpackers and then using those details on the application.

Applicants say they were willing to take the risk because they understood that only about one in 10 of such applications were properly scrutinized.

In Sydney, the Irish Echo revealed that a Wicklow man – going by the name of Kevin Doyle – had made more than $60,000 by selling such information to more than 150 people.

The crackdown began in November when an Irishman gained the dubious honor of becoming the first known person to be convicted of using the scheme for immigration fraud. He was fined $1,400 and deported.

A spokesperson for the Australian Immigration Department told the Irish Times that anyone caught on a fraudulent visa faced deportation, jail time, and serious fines.

"The Department of Immigration and Citizenship has strengthened integrity measures to detect and deter fraud within the Working Holiday Visa program,” the spokesman said.

“The second Working Holiday Visa program will be closely scrutinised by the
department on an ongoing basis to ensure applicants are acting in accordance with immigration law.

“The Australian Government regards immigration fraud as a serious offence that will not be tolerated.

“Temporary visa holders who acquire a visa fraudulently are liable for cancellation of their visa and removal from Australia and can also face criminal charges with jail terms of up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to $110 000.”

Over the past year, 4,425 Irish people have extended their stays in Australia using second-year WHVs. The Irish are second only to the Koreans in winning the visa extension.