According to Australian immigration law, a person who tries to enter Australia without a visa or travel documents is in the country illegally (unlawfully) and is termed "illegal entrant", "unauthorised arrival" or "unlawful arrival".
There are three categories of unlawful immigration. The first is arrival by air without proper documentation or visa, the second, arrival by sea without proper documentation or visa and the third, the overstaying or breaching of visa requirements.
Since the late 1990s the term “illegal immigrant” has been widely used in the media to describe asylum seekers, in particular boat people. This is hot because asylum seekers who arrive in Australia seeking protection without valid visas, no documents or false documents, are not illegal. They are asylum seekers - a legal status under both Australian Law and International Laws that Australia is a signatory to.
The term asylum seeker is not an alternative to the term illegal immigrant. It is similarly incorrect to use asylum seeker as a general term to describe all people who enter Australia illegally. People enter or stay in Australia illegally for a range of reasons and most never seek asylum.
In fact, the vast majority of “Illegals” in Australia are from western countries, primarily British tourists.
10 March 2002