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Hotword: Unlawful non-citizen...


Unlawful non-citizen...


Under the Migration Act 1958, if a person’s visa expires while they are in Australia they become an “unlawful non-citizen”. The Act requires that they be detained and removed from Australia as soon as is practical.

Since September 1994 the Act has required that all unlawful non-citizens must be detained regardless of their age, sex, nationality or any other status. The detention requirement continues until the person is determined to have a lawful reason to remain in Australia or is removed from Australia.

In 2002-03, 13,878 unlawful non-citizens were removed from Australia.

Many unlawful non-citizens depart Australia voluntarily without any contact with government officials.

What makes it hot?

This term generates heat when it is used to imply that asylum seekers who arrive in Australia without valid visas are unlawful non-citizens. Asylum seekers are lawful non-citizens - they are legally claiming a status that is recognised in the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951, and the 1967 protocol regarding the Status of Refugees, agreements to which Australia is a signatory.

Date Added:

10 March 2002