Australia deports 630 Irish nationals over two-year period
Lawyer says Australia deporting immigrants they believe do not have a ‘good character’
Australia has replaced the 457 visa programme with the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (TSS) with a significantly reduced list of qualifying occupations. Photograph: Getty images
More than 630 Irish people have been deported from Australia over the last two years according to figures released by the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
Overstaying a visa, having a visa cancelled or invalid visas were the most common reasons for their deportation.
The Irish Australian Support Association in Queensland (IASAQ), a group that helps Irish people in Australia, said changes to visas had left people in “a grey area” and they were not surprised by the figures.
According to figures from the Department of Home Affairs in Australia and released to RTÉ, Irish nationals were removed from onshore immigration detention facilities from all states and territories across the country.
A spokesperson for IASAQ, Paddy Farrelly told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland the changes came as a “shock” and some Irish people in Australia have “fallen between stools”.
Earlier this year, Australia scrapped its skilled 457 visa programme, which had allowed tens of thousands of Irish workers to enter the country legally. The visa changes were announced in 2017 by then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull who said he wanted “to put Australians first.”
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There were allegations that the 457 visa was being misused by employers to import workers “on the cheap” and not to fill genuine skill shortages.
The 457 visa was replaced with the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (TSS), however, the list of occupations that qualify for TSS, was significantly reduced.
Mr Farrelly said the transition from the 457 to TSS can be difficult as the new visas are limited, expensive and have an intimidating amount of paper work.
He said dozens of people are turning to the Irish Australian Support Group looking for help with visa issues.
Melbourne-based Immigration law expert Rick Gunn also told Morning Ireland many people are taking a risk and living undocumented. He said the Australian government was deporting immigrants if they believe they do not have “good character”.
Mr Gunn said he recently represented an Irish man held in immigration detention for two months after authorities discovered he did not disclose a minor conviction in Ireland.
“The incident was very upsetting for the man and his family.”
He urged people to be “upfront and honest” about prior convictions, no matter how minor, when entering Australia.
The Irish Australian Support Group urged anyone experiencing visa problems to contact them.