Unlawful Non-Citizen


A person becomes an unlawful non-citizen if they remain in Australian without a valid visa. Generally, this happens when a person overstays their visa or they had their visas cancelled for character reasons. A baby born to an unlawful non-citizen inherits the unlawful status.

What happens if I have no visa?

The Migration Act requires officers detain and remove unlawful non-citizens. In addition, you may be subject to exclusion periods preventing you from being granted an Australian visa. This may also affect your eligibility for Australian citizenship and applications for a visa to another country.

Unlawful non-citizens have no work rights (and are often subject to exploitation if they work), study rights (even if they are children) or access to Medicare, social security or other welfare benefits.

Unlawful non-citizens are subject to Australian law while they are in Australia and can be fined or imprisoned for offences. They are also protected by the law in the same way as Australian citizens or permanent residents (eg. if injured in a car accident they can claim compensation but may not be able to stay in Australia to pursue their claim). However, people who are injured at work while working unlawfully may have difficulty claiming compensation. There will also be difficulty in purchasing properties and may be subject to force sale.

can i apply for another visa?

If you do not hold a substantive visa since last entering Australia and you were refused or cancelled, you are prevented from making another valid visa application while physically in Australia. If you were not refused or cancelled, there are other issues that will prevent the grant of another visa if those visas contain legal criteria such as, exclusion periods, substantially met previous visa conditions, genuine criteria, etc. However, there are exceptions, contact us to find out if you’re eligible.