To remain in Australia legally, every non-citizen must have a valid visa and must comply with the requirements and regulations attached to that same visa.
One of the most important requirements is that the visa holder does not overstay the expiry date they were given when they received the visa. Sometimes, though, this date is forgotten about, or the visa holder is unable to leave Australia, and so they overstay their visa past its expiry date.
So… what happens then?
Worst case, overstaying an Australia visa can lead to some seriously scary consequences: being detained in immigration detention, being removed from Australia, and even being blocked from applying for Australian visas in the future. None of these are ideal, and all of them are results that we strongly recommend you do your best to avoid.
The reason that overstaying a visa is so serious is because breaching a visa condition represents breaking Australian immigration laws. The follow-on result of this is that any breaches mean you will be flagged in the Australian immigration system, which could negatively impact any future visa applications you lodge. Additionally, there are other countries that the Australian immigration department shares data with, meaning that breaching an Australian visa condition could have consequences beyond Australia and reaching into visa applications that you lodge to enter other countries. In the same way, when you apply for Australian visas, the application form asks whether you have ever been refused or had cancelled a visa to any other country. This is the immigration department’s way of determining whether it believes you are going to respect Australia’s immigration laws and obey the conditions and requirements of the visa you are applying for.
What About Deportation?
As touched on above, if you overstay your Australian visa and do not make the necessary arrangements to leave the country by yourself or get in contact with the Australian immigration department to sort out your circumstances, you may face deportation. If you are deported from Australia due to non-compliance with your visa, you will both have to foot the bill for deportation AND declare same deportation on any future applications. This is very serious, as an individual who has previously been deported will have to prove beyond a doubt that they now intend to honour Australia’s immigration laws, even though they did not previously. On the flip side, if you get in contact with immigration authorities and try to regularise (sort out) your immigration status before you are deported, the authorities will recognise your genuine intent to try and leave the country and will generally assist you in doing so.
Can You Go to Prison?
It is very important that, if your visa has expired and you wish to return home, you first get in contact with the Department of Home Affairs – Australia’s immigration department – to notify them of your intentions. This is because, if you try to leave the country without holding a valid visa, Australia’s border officials have the power to detain you and take you to a detention centre. Once here, you are effectively imprisoned, even though you have not been convicted of or charged with an offence. It is important that, if you do find yourself in a position where you are detained, you get in contact with an immigration lawyer right away.
The most important thing to take away from the above, though, is that respecting your visa conditions will keep you out of trouble with the Department. If you have any questions on the above, or you are looking to study, visit, work or migrate to Australia, Results Migration are the best in the field, with a team of experienced migration lawyers and registered migration agents that are available to guide you through this complex area of law. Call Results Migration on 1800 808 717 or email us on [email protected] and book your free consultation today!