Migrants stay past visa expiration dates

Date: Jul 30, 2012

The number of people who stay in Australia after their visa has expired is on the rise, figures obtained by News Corp reveal.

Over the past year alone, 3,530 more people have opted to remain here illegally - and lawyers for immigration are unlikely to see the trend slowing down anytime soon.

Official figures suggest that immigration authorities are currently in search of 7,930 people from China, 5,090 from the US, 4,640 from Malaysia and 3,650 from the UK.

These are far from the only countries with overstayers, as France, Ireland, Fiji, Japan and the Philippines among others also have people whose visas have expired.

Meanwhile, the number of visitors from India now unlawfully living in Australia has increased by 780, but this news comes as India is named the country's biggest source of migrants.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) revealed that Indian migrants accounted for 29,018 places in the 2011-12 program, or 15.7 per cent of the total.

Immigration minister Chris Bowen commented: "For some time, India has been a source of increasing numbers of new migrants to our country and it is now our largest source of permanent migrants.

"The Indian community has made a valuable contribution to economic, social and cultural life in Australia, and I know this will continue with more Indians choosing to make their home here."

Australia's second largest source of migrants was named as China, while the UK came in third place.

Statistics from the government show that as of December 31 2011, 59,430 people were living in Australia unlawfully, up from 55,900 on December 31 2010.

The available data, however, does not show how long these people have been in the country, but rather where they have originated from.

A spokesperson from the DIAC told News Corp that the majority of visa overstayers only remain in Australia for a short period of time.

"Many people who overstay their visas in Australia depart voluntarily without the need for departmental involvement," they explained.

Various experts recently told the Sydney Morning Herald that more needs to be done to attract overseas students to higher education in Australia as institutions are struggling to pull in the numbers.

David Finegold, senior vice-president for Lifelong Learning and Strategic Growth at Rutgers University, said that Australia was starting to lose favour with Asian students.

Individuals from the likes of India and China are now searching for more than just a good lifestyle when they decide where to go to university.