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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002  
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Contents >> Population >> Unauthorised arrivals and overstayers

UNAUTHORISED ARRIVALS AND OVERSTAYERS

INTRODUCTION

Recent years have seen an increase in the number of unauthorised arrivals intercepted as they attempt to enter Australia without going through official immigration procedures. There are no statistics on the total number of people who attempt to enter Australia without authorisation, but those who are intercepted are counted. Unless they are granted visas to remain in Australia, unauthorised arrivals are removed as soon as is practicable.

In addition to , Australia also has a number of overstayers: people who do not leave before their visa expires and who therefore remain in Australia illegally.


UNAUTHORISED ARRIVALS

According to the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA), 5,870 unauthorised arrivals there were in Australia in 1999-2000, 94% more than in the previous year (3,027). Of these arrivals, 71% (4,180) arrived by boat (see graph 5.34), over four and a half times more than in 1998-99. The remaining 1,700 (20% less than in 1998-99) arrived at Australian airports and were refused entry. The substantial increase in the arrival of boat people continued the trend that has occurred over the past few years. Since 1989-90 there have been 10,250 people who arrived without authorisation by boat, and 41% of these arrived in 1999-2000.



Age of unauthorised arrivals

Of the unauthorised boat arrivals, 66% were aged 20-34 years and 24% were aged 35-49 years.The majority of unauthorised arrivals who arrived in Australia by air during 1998-99 were aged 20-34 years (59%); the second most common age group was 35-49 years (32%).


Where do unauthorised arrivals enter Australia?

Many of the unauthorised boat arrivals (mostly from Indonesia) land on the Ashmore Islands, north of Western Australia in the Timor Sea. Other landing sites include; Cape York Peninsula, Torres Strait Islands, Darwin, Coburg Peninsula, Christmas Island, the north west Kimberley region, and the coasts of Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.

The majority of unauthorised arrivals flying to Australia arrive at Sydney airport (55% in 1998-99), followed by Brisbane (20%), Melbourne (10%) and Perth (9%).


Source countries of unauthorised arrivals

As many unauthorised arrivals have no travel documents on arrival in Australia, the citizenship of these entrants is sometimes difficult to determine. For arrivals by air, the country of origin is used when citizenship is not available, while ethnicity is used for those arriving by boat. Of the unauthorised arrivals by sea (see table 5.35), 21% were Chinese, 19% were Iraqi, 13% were Afghani and 12% were Sino-Vietnamese. In 1999-2000, 9% of unauthorised arrivals in Australia by air originated in Iraq, a further 6% were South Korea citizens and 6% were New Zealand citizens who were refused clearance due to lack of proper documentation (see table 5.36).

5.35 ETHNICITY OF UNAUTHORISED ARRIVALS BY BOATS - 1989 to 1999-2000

Top tenEthnicity
no.

1Chinese
1,847
2Iraqi(a)
1,734
3Afghani
1,141
4Sino-Vietnamese
1,061
5Cambodian
271
6Vietnamese
171
7Turkish
168
8Iranian
92
9Bangladeshi
87
10Sri Lankan
60
Total(b)
9,051

(a) Country of origin.
(b) Includes births to unauthorised arrivals while in Australia and 'other countries'.

Source: Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Fact Sheet 81, Unauthorised Arrivals by Air and Sea.


5.36 COUNTRY OF CLAIMED CITIZENSHIP OF UNAUTHORISED ARRIVALS BY AIR - 1999-2000

Top tenCountry of citizenship
no.

1Iraq(a)
157
2South Korea
108
3New Zealand
107
4Thailand
74
5Peoples Republic of China
73
6Indonesia
54
7Sri Lanka
47
8Somalia
11
9Algeria
14
10Kuwait(a)
4
Total(b)
1,695

(a) Country of origin used instead of country of citizenship.
(b) Includes 'other countries'.

Source: Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Fact Sheet 81, Unauthorised Arrivals by Air and Sea.

Overstayers

Initially overstayers arrive in Australia with valid temporary visas. When gaining a visa to enter Australia, people agree to comply with the conditions of that visa and to leave Australia before it expires. According to DIMA, the majority of people who overstay their visa are simply extending a short stay in Australia by a few days or weeks and leave of their own accord. Others overstay in the hope of living and working in Australia.

Some 7,200 visitors were identified in 1999-2000 as overstayers (see graph 5.37), well down on the number in the previous year. Australia's accumulated stock of overstayers was estimated at 58,745 as at the end of June 2000. An estimated 29% of these had overstayed their visa by less than a year, a further 15% between one and two years and 28% were believed to have overstayed for 9 years or more.




Age and sex of overstayers

Of the 58,750 estimated overstayers in Australia as at 30 June 2000, 62% were males and 38% were females. One-third of all male overstayers were aged 35-49 years, and a further 32% were aged 20-34 years. Of females, 28% were aged 20-34 years and 28% were aged 35-49 years.


Nationality of overstayers

The number of overstayers tends to correspond to the number of short-term arrivals from specific countries. At June 2000, around one-tenth of overstayers were from the United Kingdom, Australia's third main source country for short-term visitor arrivals. These were followed by 8% from the United States of America, 7% from Indonesia, 7% from the Philippines and 6% from China (excl. SARs and Taiwan Province).

The countries with the highest visitor overstay rate (overstayers from a particular country as a proportion of the total visitors from that country) differ substantially from the main source countries (see table 5.38). At June 2000, for visaed visitors from the two main source countries, Japan and the United Kingdom, the overstay rates were close to zero. However, for citizens of Viet Nam the overstay rate was 2.9% (of 5,020 visitors from that country), 2.1% for those from the Philippines (of 33,470 visitors), 2.1% for Samoa (of 2,590 visitors), 1.8% for Laos (of 530 visitors) and 1.7% for Peru (of 850 visitors).

The source countries with the highest proportion of overstayers still in the country include citizens of Ecuador (6.5% of 1,590 visitors) and Tonga (5.2% of 20,750 visitors). The proportions overstaying were also high for visitors from countries such as Peru and Bangladesh.

5.38 COUNTRIES WITH HIGHEST RATIO OF OVERSTAYERS TO TEMPORARY ENTRANTS/VISITORS - At 30 June 2000

Country of citizenship
Estimate of
overstayers(a)
Visitors and temporary
entrants to Australia
January 1995 to June 2000(b)
Ratio of overstayers
to total temporary
entrants and visitors
no.
no.
%

Ecuador
104
1,591
6.54
Tonga
1,084
20,750
5.22
Burma (Myanmar)
150
5,284
2.84
Pakistan
526
20,063
2.62
Samoa
417
15,940
2.62
Peru
113
4,344
2.60
Bangladesh
279
11,527
2.42
Lebanon
452
19,129
2.36
Iran
246
10,672
2.31
Nepal
169
7,334
2.30
All other countries
55,205
23,579,534
0.23
Total(b)
58,745
23,696,168
0.25
(a) Estimate based on the cumulative number of overstayers since January 1996 who are still living in Australia. Unauthorised arrivals are excluded.
(b) Number includes all unlawful non-citizens who arrived in the 12 months before January 1996. Also includes some entrants who have visited more than once in the period January 1995 to June 2000.

Source: DIMA, Population flows, Immigration Aspects, 2000 edition.


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