What happens if my Australian visa is expired or cancelled?
If you are in Australia and not an Australian citizen, you should always have a valid visa. Australian temporary visas usually have an expiry date. If you happen to overstay your visa or if your visa is cancelled, then you might find yourself without a visa. So the question is what happens if you overstay your visa?
When can I overstay my visa?
The simple answer to is that you should not overstay your visa. If you find yourself without a visa because your visa expired or was cancelled then you will be considered an ‘unlawful non-citizen’, which is a frightening name for a person without a visa. If you do not do something about it, you may get deported and removed from Australia under Australian laws.
What to do if my visa is expired
Check, check and check your visa conditions & validity period
You should always check the expiry date on your visa grant letter. You can also search what visa you hold and the expiry date through the Visa Entitlement Verification Online system. Once you know when your visa will expire, you can then know your options and apply for another visa to stay in Australia before the expiry date.
Before your visa expires
You should seek legal advice as to what visa options you qualify for. You also need to lodge a valid visa application and pay the correct filing fees at the right time. It is generally better to try to lodge an application as early as possible before your expiry date.
If you lodge your visa application in Australia, you might be eligible to be granted a bridging visa depending on what visa you had at the time you lodged your new application. A bridging visa will allow you to stay in Australia lawfully until your visa is decided. Always check your bridging visa conditions as they may have restrictions on international travel and work rights. For more information on bridging visas, check out our blog on bridging visas.
Be aware of invalid applications
Sometimes a visa application can be invalid which means it was not lodged correctly and is not accepted by the Department of Immigration. The reason for invalid applications could be due to:
- your immigration history , maybe you had a refusal or a cancellation before;
- because the wrong form or manner (online vs paper) was used to apply for the visa;
- the filing fees were not paid because of insufficient funds or any other reason.
If your application is invalid you will not receive a bridging visa and you may find yourself unlawful if your first visa has expired. Sometimes it is safer to engage an agent or a lawyer to lodge your application on your behalf. We recommend that you seek legal advice prior to lodging your application or if your new application was deemed invalid.
After your visa expires
If your visa has expired and you find yourself without a visa, then you will be unlawful. In this case, the first step to do is to immediately seek immigration assistance from a migration agent or a lawyer. Every case is different and that is why you will need tailored legal advice.
If you are in Australia without a visa, your options will be limited. We summarised some of the options that you may have in those situations:
- leave Australia;
- apply for another substantive visa (if possible); or
- apply for a bridging visa E to allow you to leave Australia;
- take any negative decision on review if you are still within the correct timeframe;
- other options depending on your circumstances and plans.
Staying in Australia without a visa can have serious consequences as the government has the power to detain unlawful non-citizens and remove/deport them from Australia.
What to do if my visa is cancelled
A visa can be cancelled for various reasons. The Australian law allows for cancellation on either
- Discretionary grounds, i.e. the decision maker has the power to either cancel or not; or
- Mandatory grounds, i.e. they must cancel under the Migration Act.
For example, your visa will be cancelled if:
- you provided false information on your visa application or entry card;
- you breached one of your visa conditions;
- your circumstances changes and you no longer qualify for your visa;
- you commit a crime and fail the character test.
All those reasons can lead to a cancellation of your visa. Before your visa is cancelled you should generally receive a Notice of Intention to Cancel and you must respond within 5 business days. If the Department goes ahead and cancel your visa, you will be an unlawful non-citizen. If you had other visas at the time, they will also be cancelled automatically. Your options might be limited to:
- taking the cancellation on review and seek revocation of the visa cancellation;
- apply for a bridging visa (if possible) to allow you to wait for a review or prepare your affairs to leave Australia;
- leave Australia immediately;
- other options depending on your circumstances and plans.
If your visa is cancelled, you may be banned from applying for other applications once you leave Australia for a period of time. If your visa was cancelled because of a criminal record i.e. character issues, you may be banned from Australia for life.
Follow your visa conditions to avoid cancellation and always check your visa expiry dates. Plan, plan and plan well ahead of time. If you are approaching the end of your visa validity period, seek legal advice if you wish to remain in Australia.
- Australian visas are more complex than what you may think. We recommend you seek legal advice before applying for a visa application. Please contact us for more information.
- Always check when your visa will expire and ask for help if in doubt.
- Follow your visa conditions and if your circumstances change, discuss them with an agent first to help you with other plans;
- If your visa is cancelled, you will need to seek help immediately as you will have very strict timeframe to appeal the cancellation.
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 awarded John Gibson Young Migration Lawyer of the year award in 2020 and was a finalist in multiple awards in 2019 such as 30 under 30, the Rising Star of the year and the Suburban Lawyer of the year.
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