Act sooner rather than later if your visa has expired

Date: May 08, 2012

Individuals who have overstayed their visa are advised to seek the advice of lawyers in immigration as soon as possible to avoid running into any trouble with the authorities.

In order to avoid this situation arising, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has released an online video outlining what steps people need to take to legally remain in the country.

The video is available in 14 languages and highlights the problems faced by three people whose visas are about to expire, but do not know where to turn.

The videos also document the stresses people can face when they have nowhere to turn - and recommend that they contact immigration experts.

A spokesperson from the department said that in the majority of cases, people simply do not know where to go to receive advice when their visa is about to expire.

It is common for individuals to rely on guidance from their family, friends or the general community, which may be misleading or mean they fall foul of the law.

The spokesperson continued: "Most people do attend one of our offices when they realise they have misjudged their circumstances and their visa has expired.

"Others hesitate for many different reasons; for example, they may worry that they'll be immediately detained."

However, the majority of cases can be resolved by issuing a bridging visa, which gives the individual enough time to make their own arrangements to depart or find an alternative visa to apply for if they are eligible.

Figures show that the DIAC resolved the immigration status of more than 11,000 people who had outstayed their visa in the 2010-11 financial year, marking a five per cent rise from the previous 12-month period.

The DIAC pointed out that taking action to resolve a visa status can save a person plenty of angst and assist the department in concentrating on illegal workers and employers who are knowingly flouting the Migration Act.

In order to distribute the most up-to-date advice to the general public, the DIAC hosts a number of meetings throughout the year.

Later this month (May 16 and 17), officers will be visiting Waikerie and Berri in South Australia where they will help individuals who are concerned about their immigration status.

They will also aim to assist people who are currently not in possession of an Australian visa.