THIS Wednesday Department of Home Affairs staff will be in Cannonvale to give people whose visas are about to expire, or have expired, an opportunity to discuss their situation.
THIS Wednesday Department of Home Affairs staff will be in Cannonvale to give people whose visas are about to expire, or have expired, an opportunity to discuss their situation. Contributed

Has your visa expired? Now is your chance to talk

THIS Wednesday, Department of Home Affairs staff will be in Cannonvale to give people whose visas are about to expire, or have expired, an opportunity to discuss their situation.

The program is part of the Status Resolution Outreach Program set up in July 2017 to help reach those clients in areas without easy access to a Visa and Citizenship office.

From 9am - 4pm, departmental staff will be at the Centrelink office at 224 Shute Harbour Rd to answer visa questions and provide information about possible visa options.

People can also get help if they want to return home but are unsure about how to do this.

Deputy State Director for Queensland, Todd Jacob said the visits followed successful similar events staged June 19-21 in Mareeba and Innisfail.

"Across both locations, we had excellent stakeholder meetings, and in Mareeba we granted 12 bridging visas on departure grounds to unlawful non-citizens,” Mr Jacob said.

Mr Jacob said all people must have a valid visa to remain in Australia.

"By attending one of the Department's outreach sessions, someone whose visa is about to expire or has already expired can get their visa status in order,” Mr Jacob said.

"Some people don't intentionally become unlawful. They may get confused about the date their visa expires.

"Others get incorrect advice from friends and family. In addition, non-citizens in a vulnerable position due to domestic violence or destitution are also seen at these appointments, and trained officers are available to meet with these clients to provide assistance within a confidential and safe environment.

"In other cases, people need practical assistance in returning to their home country.”

The Department can refer people to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) which is a free and independent service from Government.

IOM can provide further specialist counselling and advice about returning home, including help obtaining travel documents, a passport, and plane tickets.

Mr Jacob said it was important for someone who was living unlawfully in Australia to come forward voluntarily rather than risk being caught in an Australian Border Force compliance operation which may see them detained and removed with a bill for the cost of their removal and a re-entry ban on returning to Australia.

"I strongly urge anyone who has overstayed their visa or has any questions about their visa situation to come and talk to our officers in a friendly, low-key environment when we come to a town near you,” Mr Jacob said.

"Anyone who comes along to these outreach sessions can do so anonymously, there is no requirement to identify yourself.”

Today, staff are conducting the same program in Townsville at 307 Ross River Rd, Aitkenvale until 4pm and tomorrow will be in Ayr at 100 MacMillan St 9am - 3pm

For more information about visa overstaying visit www.homeaffairs.gov.au/srs.


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