Anyone whose visa is about to expire, or has expired, can discuss their situation with officals this week in Mount Isa.
Staff from the Home Affairs department will be visiting Mount Isa on April 18, and will open a one-day shopfront at Centrelink from 9am-4pm.
Deputy state director Todd 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 knowingly become unlawful. They may get confused about the date their visa expires. Others get incorrect advice from friends and family. And in some cases, people need practical assistance in returning to their home country.”
Department staff can answer visa questions and provide information about possible visa options while granting a bridging visa.
A bridging visa is a temporary visa that allows a person to stay lawfully in the community, while they resolve their immigration status.
People can also get help if they want to return home but are unsure about how to do this.
The department can refer people to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) which is a free and independent service.
IOM can provide further specialist counselling and advice about returning home, including help obtaining travel documents, a passport, and plane tickets.
IOM may also be able to help with the costs of returning to a home country and in some cases, assistance in starting over.
Mr Jacob said it is important for someone who is 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.”