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Minister simplifies exclusion periods for illegals

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M e d i a R e l e a s e

MRS 40/96


The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock has announced a simplification of restrictions on people who breach visa conditions and later apply offshore, to return to Australia.

"The changes should encourage people who have overstayed their visa, to leave Australia before they are located," Mr Ruddock said.

People who overstay their visa or breach other visa conditions, such as working without permission, are presently excluded from returning to Australia for periods ranging up to five years. This will change from 1 August 1996.

"If applicants for permanent residence visas have departed Australia voluntarily, there will be no exclusion periods, so that they will be able to apply immediately to return to Australia with proper authority," Mr Ruddock said.

"People who recognise their wrong-doing by departing voluntarily show a sense of responsibility for their unlawful actions. Restricting their return, can be unduly harsh, especially if they have developed close ties with Australian citizens or residents."

"However the Government will continue its efforts to locate and remove people who ignore the conditions on their visa, by overstaying their welcome."

In 1995-96, 4,206 unlawful people left Australia voluntarily after having been located by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.

If people are removed from Australia, rather than departing voluntarily, the exclusion period will be set at 12 months, rather than the current 30 months or five years. In 1995-96, 1,097 people were removed from Australia.

An exclusion period of three years will still apply to applicants for temporary visas, if they have committed certain breaches of immigration law. This includes working without authority, or overstaying visas for more than 28 days.

"A waiver of most exclusion periods will continue to be available in compelling or compassionate circumstances, where it is in the interests of Australia or an Australian citizen or resident," Mr Ruddock said.

The changes follow a review of the provisions and are in line with the Government's commitment to simplify legislation.

Note: Those who might benefit from these changes are advised not to make an application before 1 August. By law, applications received before that date must be considered under the current regulations. CANBERRA 29 July 1996 Media enquiries: Steve Ingram (06) 277 7860

The Hon. Philip Ruddock MR Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 Telephone: (06) 277 7860 Facsimile: (06) 273 4144