Every year, thousands of people from many countries dream of a better life in Australia and make the decision to migrate. While most enter Australia legally, there are some who overstay their visa when it has expired and will be in Australia unlawfully.
Recent statistics show that could be as many as 64,000 with the Department of Immigration saying that 12,000 of them have been here for 20 years or more.
Immigration officials and police are constantly trying to trace illegal workers but it is a huge operation and can be difficult to achieve.
How do they flout the law?
Most of the people who land in Australia arrive by air, and settle into their new life. When they overstay their visas, they become unlawful.
Once they've merged into Australian society, it can sometimes be difficult to trace them. Employers may fail to check work permits and visas and so they go undetected.
This year the Australian Government announced they're overhauling the Subclass 457 visa scheme with the aim of protecting Australian jobs. Some argue more attention should be directed towards clamping down on over-stayers.
Who is overstaying?
Those who overstay are usually on temporary Visitor visas. Statistics show this figure is 47,000. Student visa holders accounted for 9,690.
The nationality which makes up the largest group of unlawful non-citizens in the last financial years 2016/17 is Malaysian, followed by the Chinese and the United States.
UK nationals, Indonesians and Indians are less likely to overstay.
How much of a drain is this on the Australian Government?
Immigration officials have 193 compliance officers who work throughout Australia trying to contain the problem.
Senator Stirling Griff, who is the deputy leader of the Nick Xenophon team, has been vocal about the impending visa shake up. He told news reporters recently that better checks were needed to prevent the problem escalating.
"There is little checking of visas so there needs to be a system of greater scrutiny. When you look at the figures and see that there have been 20,000 illegal stayers in Australia for more than 15 years, it makes a mockery of the border protection focus on the so-called 'boat people'and their lack of Australian placement," he said.
The number of people arriving unauthorised by boat in Australia is relatively small in comparison to numbers arriving by boat in Europe, with asylum claims lodged in Australia also minimal in comparison to Europe and USA.
What happens if you overstay?
For many who have been here illegally for twenty years or more, it may be that they have simply forgotten to do something about their visas.
For those who are found with visas which have expired, they can be forcibly detained and removed from this country and could face a three-year re-entry ban.
They can try to work with Immigration officials by lodging an application for a substantive visa which allows the visa holder to remain temporarily in Australia. They can then apply for another visa or an extension of a visa to stay lawfully.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection says it generally tries to work with individuals to resolve their cases.
If you need advice and further clarification, why not call Visa Solutions Australia today? We are a trusted team of experts with extensive knowledge of anything and everything to do with migration.