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Onshore applications for some unlawful spouses



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THE HON PHILIP RUDDOCK MR Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 Telephone: (06) 277 7660 Facsimile: (0Θ) 273 4144

MRS 17/96 ONSHORE APPLICATIO NS FOR SOME UNLAW FUL SPOUSES

People In Australia unlawfully and in a relationship with an Australian spouse will, in exceptional circumstances be able to apply on-shore to remain in Australia, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock announced today.

"The current situation Is that people who overstay their visa for more than 2Θ days are compelled to apply overseas, If they seek residency in Australia on the basis of a long­ standing relationship with an Australian resident or citizen," Mr Ruddock said.

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"This measure can cause considerable hardship and financial strain to couples who have shown a genuine commitment to each other. It can also be traumatic for children in the affected family.

"People should come forward and discuss their options before they place themselves and their family In this sltuatio. However, I have decided that from 1 August 1996, where there are compelling circumstances, applications may be made In Australia.

"Where there are compelling circumstances, Jt will be possible to waive the requirement for the spouse to travel overseas to lodge their application at an Australian mission. This measure is designed to reduce the penalty Imposed on Australians, by their partners who have taken a decision to ignore Australian law and overstay their visa."

Compelling circumstances will be considered to be those of a strongly compassionate nature, such as where there are Australlan-citizen children in the relationship or where the couple have been In a genuine and continuing relationship for at least two years.

"I expect the waiver to be used in limited circumstances and no-one should assume that there Is a general lifting of restrictions on visa overstayers," Mr Ruddock said.

"Australia expects people to abide by the conditions in their visa and I would strongly urge people who contemplate*overstaying their visa to consider the impact their decision might have on family, friends or others who rely on them."

The changes arise from a review by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs of the legal provisions concerning spouse migration within Australia.

The changes do not apply to applicants who have previously been refused a visa since their last entry to Australia. People in these circumstances will still be required to leave Australia to apply for migration,

People with unflnallsed spouse or interdependency applications on 1 August 1996, will be able to be considered under these changes. Applications may be lodged at offices of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs at any time, although they cannot be finalised until after 1 August 1996.

CANBERRA 30 May 1996

CONTACT: Steve Ingram (06) 277 7860