Have you overstayed your visa? Advice if you become unlawful

Those who are not Australian citizens must have a visa to live lawfully in Australia. However, circumstances can arise where a non-citizen may find themselves in Australia without a visa.

Temporary visas, like visitor visas, student visas and the subclass 457 visa, have an expiry date, and overstaying a temporary visa will result in a non-citizen having an unlawful status in Australia. While Permanent visas don’t have an expiry date, they do have a ‘travel facility’ date, and to leave and come back to Australia after this date requires a further visa (see http://www.puttlegal.com.au/resident-return-visas/).

It may also be that your visa is cancelled for character reasons or non-compliance.  A cancellation decision will immediately result in an unlawful status.

So, what can you do if you find yourself unlawfully in Australia? It is crucial that you speak to a specialist migration lawyer, who can assist you in taking the steps necessary to become lawful again. If you go directly to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), or continue to live in the community without a valid visa, you risk being taken into immigration detention, and potentially being deported.

Putt Legal can assist unlawful non-citizens to remain in Australia, and as lawyers, we are not required to disclose client information to the DIBP. All communications with a lawyer are confidential, meaning unlawful non-citizens can speak without fear of their visa status being disclosed to others.

As ruled in a Federal Court case, a solicitor for an unlawful non-citizen is not required to provide their client’s phone number to the DIBP, because of ‘legal professional privilege’. The DIBP served a notice on the solicitor requiring the mobile number of her client as he had failed to turn up for a court hearing at which it was likely he would be taken into immigration detention. However, the Federal Court ruled that the solicitor did not have to comply with the DIBP’s notice to provide the mobile number, as it was communicated to her confidentially and legal professional privilege attached to the information. See Hamdan v Minister for Immigration & Multicultural & Indigenous Affairs [2004] FCA 1267 for the full decision.

If you find yourself unlawful, Putt Legal can provide confidential assistance in legalising your status in Australia.


Putt Legal are your specialists in Immigration Law. We can assist you in making your migration to Australia seamless.

The Australian visa process can be complex and confusing; our lawyers work with you to guide you through every step of the way.

We are highly qualified and experienced in immigration law matters and are committed to providing expert advice in every individual case.

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