Almost 20,000 people over stayed the terms of their Australia visa in the last financial year.
11 October 2012
Twenty thousand over stay Australia visa
According to figures obtained by The Australian newspaper, almost 20,000 people overstayed their Australia visa validity last year, more than double the number five years ago.
While the issue of asylum seekers arriving by boat continues to dominate Australian immigration news, recently researched figures reveal that the number of people entering the country legally on an Australian visa and then failing to leave is a much bigger problem.
Despite the Australian government legislating for record numbers of asylum seekers to provide a suitable deterrent, high rates of boat arrivals carrying hundreds more asylum seekers have continued to arrive.
The 8,000 and rising asylum seekers that have arrived in Australia so far this year have dominated news reports and political debate but the number is dwarfed in comparison to the approximately 19,540 people who overstayed their visa in the last financial year.
The data, obtained by The Australia, showed the rate of overstayers had doubled in the past five years, during which time over 75,000 people had overstayed their visa. Furthermore, the data claimed it cost Australian immigration authorities as much as AU$5,000 (£3,200) to deport each person.
A spokesperson for the Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said while the number was of genuine concern, it represented just a fraction of the number of visitors to Australia each year who abided by the terms and conditions of their visas.
"In 2011-12, more than 99% of more than 4.8 million temporary entrants complied with the requirement to leave Australia prior to their visa expiring," said the spokesperson, who added that the government had also improved methods to tackle the abuse.
"Immigration compliance operations have actually led to about a 25% increase in the number of visa over-stayers and other unlawful non-citizens being detected and either removed from Australia or having their status regularised."
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.