The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) will extend an amnesty of sorts to visa overstayers in Queensland’s regional towns to help them avoid detention or a three-year re-entry ban from Australia.
The DIBP visited Bundaberg and Gladstone last week and will visit Mount Isa on Thursday as part of the Community Status Resolution Service (CSRS), a community outreach program which encourages people living or working illegally in Australia to come forward voluntarily.
A Departmental spokesperson said the idea behind the service, which has been around for many years, was for overstayers and people with a bridging visa E to work with the Department to establish their visa status.
“It is always preferable for unlawful non-citizens to voluntarily come forward and work with the Department to resolve their immigration status issues,” said the spokesperson. “There are significant penalties including lengthy exclusion bans for people who are removed from Australia.
“The Department generally does not detain people in Australia who approach the department, it will generally grant a Bridging Visa E (BVE).”
The spokesperson said CSRS officers provided clear and personally relevant information about a person’s situation and their visa or departure options, so that they could make informed decisions sooner.
The Department regularly conducts busts to detect people living and working illegally in Australia, often with harsh consequences.
The DIBP’s website says: “If you are found in the community without a visa, you could be detained and removed from Australia. You could face a three-year re-entry ban from visiting Australia again. You have a choice – do something about your situation now.”
The spokesperson said more visits were planned to other regional centres in Queensland over the next few months, with a focus on industries such as agriculture and construction.