First entry date to Australia and why you should not miss it
Congratulations! You worked hard, waited long and you have been granted a permanent visa to Australia. Each visa has it is own conditions that you have to comply with. One of them is the first entry date to Australia which requires you and your family members to come to Australia by a certain date. Why and what if the date is missed? This blog will answer these questions and explain what to do.
First Entry Date- initial entry required
A permanent visa will usually have a date for: ‘first entry, arrive by’ which is a mandatory condition that needs to be complied with. This can be 12 months from the date of the grant letter or sometimes shorter than that. You should ensure to come to Australia before that date because otherwise it is a breach of this condition.
The first entry date should not be confused with ‘must not arrive after’ as this is your travel facility in and out of Australia for 5 years from the grant date and independent from your initial entry. Although the travel facility allow travel in and outside of Australia for 5 years, there is no legal power to amend the initial entry date visa condition if it is missed.
Why is the first entry date imposed?
Generally, the department imposes a first entry date for you to come to Australia to ensure that the police and health checks are still within their validity period. If they expire and you have not yet travelled to Australia, you may have to provide new police clearances and undertake a new medical examination.
What if I missed the first entry date?
Missing the first entry date may lead to the cancellation of your visa. This cancellation is up to the Department in Australia, i.e. discretionary in nature.
The Department will first consider exceptional and compelling reasons that have prevented you or your family from entering Australia on the required date. For example, the Department will give more weight to reasons that have an element which is outside the control of the visa holder. Other factors they can generally consider at immigration clearance in particular include:
- Whether you or your family contacted an overseas post before travelling (and the outcome of this contact), and if not, the reasons as to why they did not contact the department;
- Whether the significant delay in entering is due to exceptional and compelling circumstances;
- How much time has elapsed since the initial entry date – generally the more time that has transpired between the initial and actual entry date, means the greater the breach;
- Australia’s international obligations in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and family principles- i.e. what is the best interest of the children involved.
What are my options if I missed my entry date?
Travel to Australia unprepared hoping nothing will occur. This is a risky option as you may be stopped at the airport and denied entry. If you are denied entry. Your permanent visa might get cancelled and you may not be able to return to Australia again.
Travel to Australia prepared without first contacting the department but have all the documents required as to why you did not come to Australia prior to the first entry date. Must show strong compelling and compassionate reasons at the airport if requested. You face cancellation of the visa at the airport if the case officer does not agree with your reasons.
Contact the Department ASAP to obtain a letter to allow you to come to Australia post your first entry date. Prior to travelling to Australia, contact the department and explain your compelling and compassionate circumstances why you were unable to meet the first entry date condition, and explain the situation to them with all the documents in relation to the delay.
Strong documents should be provided. Only when the department decides not to cancel the visa and issue you with a letter to confirm ‘Exceptional and compelling circumstances for breach of first entry date’ then you can travel to Australia. The department may request the date of your travel back to Australia and include that date on the letter. You must then take this letter with you and provide it to the airline at the check in point as well as keep a copy for immigration clearance when you reach Australia.
- Always read the dates and conditions of your visa.
- Seek legal advice before taking an action. Make sure to contact experts in this area.
- You should not provide any wrong information or documents to the department at any time.
About the author
This article was written by Marial Lewis. Marial is an admitted lawyer in Australia and holds a double degree in Commerce and Law as well as a Master degree in Legal Practice. She was a finalist in various awards in 2019 including, the prestigious 30 under 30 award in migration law, Australasian Law Awards as the Rising Star of the year and the Suburban Lawyer of the year as well as a finalist in the Australia Women in Law Awards.
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