Crackdown on couples rorting welfare and immigration begins

COUPLES rorting the welfare system and those fraudulently claiming to be couples to get a visa will face a government crackdown.

The government has started a new data-matching investigation that will target people claiming to be single, but living as a couple, to claim more welfare benefits.

It will also focus on men and women who claim single payments, but have declared sponsorship of a partner for immigration purposes.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the data-matching system would help public servants identify people suspected of migration fraud and "contrived marriages".

"The consequences are serious - people may be forced to repay the benefits they were not entitled to, have their visa application refused or face criminal charges," he said.

The program will run from July this year for a trial year, with other similar data-matching programs in the welfare system last year reaping about $130 million for government coffers.