The number of people deported from Australia has increased from 76 people in 2013-14 to 983 in the last financial year, following changes to the ‘character test’ under the Migration Act in December 2014.
The increase in visa cancellations on the grounds of criminal convictions reflects the Immigration Department’s emphasis on the character requirements of visa holders. Prospective migrants may also be more rigorously assessed for character requirements as part of proposed changes to Australian citizenship tests.
Of the 1219 non-citizens who had their visas cancelled between January 2014 and February 2016, 697 were reportedly from New Zealand and 124 were from Britain. Many of those deported had been in Australia since childhood.
The Immigration Department has been criticised by the Commonwealth Ombudsman for serious delays in processing the requests for revocation of visa cancellations. The delays have meant former prisoners were spending long periods inside immigration detention, causing prolonged family separation and undermining the best interests of children.
The Ombudsman’s report called for new standard time-frames for processing cases and prioritisation in cases where people had to care for children and long-term residents. A second report from the Ombudsman recommended that people having their visas cancelled should have the opportunity to seek legal advice and make a case against the cancellation, and be allowed an appeal period while their case is being heard.
Source: Illawarra Mercury.