Figures released by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) show that a record number of travellers remained in Australia illegally after their visas had expired last year.
In the 12 months to June 2012 19,570 people outstayed their leave to remain in Australia. This is double the number who did so in 2007 (9330). In the month of April 2012 alone, 4,300 people outstayed their permission to remain. The figures show that a lower percentage of overstayers were deported from Australia last year than five years ago. 8,320 of the 19,570 were deported at a cost of around AUS$35-40m.
A DIAC spokesman told The Australian newspaper that this was partly because many of those who overstayed were holidaymakers who did so by mere days and often by mistake. The fact that they had not been removed did not therefore mean that they were still in the country.
The spokesman said 'In 2011-12, more than 99% of more than 4.8m temporary entrants complied with the requirement to leave Australia prior to their visa expiring.'
He added Immigration compliance operations have actually led to about a 25% increase in the number of visa overstayers and other unlawful non-citizens being detected and either removed from Australia or having their status regularised.'
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