People who are concerned about their visa status in Australia because they have overstayed can access a free service aimed at helping regularise their situation.
The Community Status Resolution Service (CSRS) is offered free of charge by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) for people who have overstayed their visa or have a Bridging visa E.
‘When you approach us with an expired Australian visa, or a Bridging visa E, you can be referred to the CSRS if you need help to resolve your immigration matter,’ said a DIBP spokesman.
‘A Community Status Resolution officer will be able to give you information about your immigration or departure options, answer your questions and connect you with organisations for further assistance if needed,’ he added.
The DIBP is keen to encourage people to seek help before they outstay their visa and this can include students, temporary workers, seasonal workers and backpackers.
‘If you cooperate with us to resolve your immigration status, we can grant you a Bridging visa E. This lets you stay in Australia for a short time while you finalise your immigration matter,’ the spokesman explained.
But the DIBP is also warning that those in an irregular situation should not think that they can hide as officials regularly conduct compliance activity to locate people living in the community unlawfully.
‘If you are found in the community without a visa, you could be detained and removed from Australia. You could face a three year re-entry ban from visiting Australia again,’ the spokesman pointed out.
For those who are thinking about leaving Australia anyway they can do so at any time, even if they don’t have a valid visa. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) may be able to help plan a return home.
The CSRS regularly holds outreach sessions in some regional areas around Australia and those concerned about their visa status can speak to officers at these special sessions about an expired visa or a bridging visa.
‘The CSRS will give you clear and correct information about appropriate immigration or departure options, answer your questions and connect you with organisations for further assistance if needed,’ said the DIBP spokesman.
People can also phone the CSRS for information about expired visas or bridging visa and this can be done anonymously. They can seek general information or can speak to the operator in more detail about their circumstances.