Making the decision to leave Australia is a difficult one. However, it’s important to know when you will have to do this and the reasons why. This is vital so that you don’t find yourself ever at risk of being placed in detention or being forcibly deported back to your country. There are 3 situations in which you will have to leave Australia and they are:
- When you decide you don’t want to discontinue your legal application for Protection and so have no right to remain in Australia
- When you have tried all legal stages of applying for a Protection visa and not got a visa
- When you have no other visa options left to try and stay in Australia
When will I have to prepare to leave Australia?
You can choose to leave Australia at any time throughout the refugee process. However at some point if you have not been granted a visa to stay in Australia permanently – you will have to think about leaving. If your Protection visa has been refused and:
- You have chosen not to have that decision reviewed; or
- You have been though all of the stages in the review process (including a first request to the Minister) and did not get a visa
- AND You do not have another current visa option to remain in Australia
Then you will have to make arrangements to leave Australia.
What happens when I receive a final rejection and have no more options?
From the date you received your final rejection you typically would have a visa that will last 28 days from this date (if you had been on a bridging visa). You will need to go to the DIAC and apply for a new Bridging visa before your current visa ends so that you do not become unlawful and face the risk of being placed in detention. The DIAC will usually assign you a case officer who will give you a Bridging visa E on the basis that you are making plans to leave Australia. These plans to leave are sometimes called “departure arrangements”. Your bridging visa E on the basis of departure arrangements will have an expiry date and you will have to regularly report to the DIAC to renew your bridging visa.
What are ‘departure arrangements’?
When you go onto a Bridging visa E with departure arrangements the DIAC will encourage you to make your own travel arrangements to leave Australia voluntarily.
The DIAC can put conditions onto your bridging visa which are about making travel arrangements to leave Australia. These can be called “departure arrangements”. You must comply with those conditions on your visa – other wise you will be in breach of your Bridging visa condition. Examples of conditions your DIAC case officer might put on your bridging visa are:
- Asking you to get a passport or travel document from your country’s Embassy in Australia
- Presenting a ticket to depart
- Giving details of your travel arrangements
Can someone come with me to the appointments?
You can bring your caseworker if you have one or a support person to your appointments to renew your Bridging visa if you want to.
How long will I have before I have to leave Australia?
There is no fixed time you will have to leave Australia. It really does depend on your circumstances and what your case officer decides about this. If you do not have a travel document it may take longer. If you are willing to leave Australia your case officer may allow reasonable time for you to organise your affairs here before you go. Sometimes they may expect you to leave quite quickly. Its important that you communicate clearly with your case officer from the beginning what time you need to prepare to go home and if there are any important reasons for extra time being needed such as not have a valid passport. However they do not have to accept your request for more time and they will have the final say on when you will need to depart.
What if I am waiting for a decision from the Minister?
If you have already received one negative decision from the Minister and you decide to make another request to the Minister then you will still need to comply with your Bridging visa E conditions. If your case officer asks you to make any departure arrangements you should cooperate and do what they ask even if you are waiting for the Minister’s decision about your request. If you do not comply with your visa conditions then you are at risk of being detained.
What if I haven’t got any money to buy a ticket to return home?
IOM is the International Organisation for Migration. They give people help to return home or to “repatriate” to their country of origin. IOM can provide financial assistance to purchase a ticket and help you make basic arrangements for your wellbeing when you return home. IOM will only help you with your ticket and departure arrangements if you are returning home voluntarily. They may not be able to help you if you tell them that you don’t want to go home. You can find more information about IOM here.
What if I don’t have a passport?
If you are not found to be a refugee, the DIAC will expect you to apply for a passport or travel document from your country of nationality. Sometimes it is very difficult to apply for a passport from countries without an Embassy in Australia. The DIAC will expect you to show evidence that you are making an effort to get your passport.
Evidence of efforts to get a passport can include:
- Letters or emails with relevant overseas Embassy.
- Proof that you have lodged a passport application.
- Proof of payment of the passport application fee.
The DIAC will allow you ‘reasonable time’ to get a passport or travel document. If you can’t get one or if your case officer thinks it is taking too long then the DIAC may organise a travel document for you to leave.
What if it is not safe for me to go home?
If it is not safe for you to go home you may be able to apply for a visa and go to another country. You can discuss this option with your case officer.
What if I do not agree to leave Australia?
If you do not agree to leave Australia voluntarily you will be detained and then removed from Australia. If you are already in detention, you will be removed from detention and sent back to your home country. If you are removed, it will make it more difficult for you if you ever want to come back to Australia again. If you are deported from Australia you will be banned from being allowed to come back for a set period of time unless you can show that special circumstances apply to you. The length of the ban depends on your particular circumstances and you should get legal advice about this. If you are deported from Australia it may also affect your ability to get a visa in other countries. The Australian Government will pay the cost of your travel if you are deported. This can be expensive and if you ever want to return to Australia you will have this debt owed to the Australian Government against your name. You will also have to pay this debt or make arrangements to pay it before you can be granted another visa.
Can I come back to Australia?
You can apply for another visa to come back to Australia after you leave. It may be difficult to get a visa if you have already applied for protection here especially if it is a temporary visa. If you have ever been unlawful or had a visa cancelled or been in detention you will be banned from coming back to Australia for a set period, unless you can show that special circumstances apply to you. If you are planning to apply for a visa to come back to Australia it is very important that you cooperate with the DIAC and do what they ask about making arrangements to leave Australia.
It is important that you co-operate with the DIAC and do what they ask to prepare to leave Australia, even if you are still exploring other visa options. If you do not co-operate you risk being put in detention and deported. It’s important not to be deported as it will make it harder to come back to Australia if that is what you want to do.