05 May 2009

Australian visa overstayers get softer immigration laws

The Australian government has implemented new laws for Australian visa overstayers, which focuses on the more humane treatment of illegal immigrants.

The new laws mean that those who breach the conditions of their Australian visa will not be detained in detention centres, but will be issued some sort of temporary Australian visa so that they can make their way home unless they are convicted criminals or have been previously asked to leave the country.

According to News.com.au, an insider source from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) said the new rules give illegal Australian visa overstayers a leeway of up to six months, and is a total softening of the tradiationally hard-line approach taken by the previous Howard government.

"We basically have to invite them into the office for a coffee," an insider within the department said.

"They can get a couple of weeks or six months, whatever it takes to get them home without detaining them.

"I guess it says people can pretty much do whatever they want now.  They've been caught, but they can stay and go home when they want."

It is estimated that over 50,000 people are overstaying their Australian visa and living in the country illegally, with the majority coming from China, Malaysia, the US, and Britain.  Typically, most overstayers enter the country on an Australian holiday visa or an Australian student visa, and do not leave the country when the validity of that visa expires. 

The Immigration Minister Senator Chris Evans said the removal of detention centres allows illegal overstayers to remain in the community until their immigration status has been resolved, and that detention would only be used as a last resort.

"If a person is complying with immigration processes and is not a risk to the community, then detention in a detention centre cannot be justified," Senator Evans said.

"The department will have to justify a decision to detain - not presume detention."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

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