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  • 15 Immigration Law
  • Introduction to Immigration Law
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Introduction to Immigration Law

This chapter explores immigration and citizenship law in Australia. This includes types of Australian visas, the status of unlawful non-citizens, reviews of migration and visa decisions made by the Department of Home Affairs (hereinafter the Department). There are also useful contacts and other available resources listed on the last page.

The reader should be aware that migration regulations are managed by the federal government – this means the Australian government, not the Tasmanian government.  These regulations change rapidly. The law in this chapter is current as at September 2021.  The information in this chapter is general in nature and is not intended as legal advice. It is not a substitute for legal advice. This information should be used only as a guide. For the most current information on any immigration and visa questions, please refer the Department of Home Affairs.

Understanding visa language
Language around immigration and citizenship include: ‘subclass’, which refers to the type of visa, for example a tourist visa could be Subclass 976 ETA (Visitor). ‘Decision maker’ is the term used to refer to the employee of the Department who processes a visa application.

Citizens and Non-citizens
Other language includes ‘citizen’, ‘non-citizen’, ‘permanent resident’, ‘unlawful non-citizen’. A basic identifier of a citizen of Australia is whether they are eligible for an Australian passport. A permanent resident is a person who has the right to reside in Australia on a permanent basis, and can usually apply for citizenship. A non-citizen is not eligible for an Australian passport but when they are present in Australia, they are present on the authority of a visa. An unlawful non-citizen is a non-citizen who is present in Australia without a valid visa – be it whether they entered without a visa, or have remained when a visa has expired.

In Australian law there is a basic distinction between citizens and non-citizens. Citizens are not directly affected by immigration laws. Non-citizens of Australia fall under immigration regulation. An example of when a citizen and non-citizen will both be involved with immigration law is when a citizen acts as a sponsor for a spouse visa for a non-citizen spouse. There are a set of procedures and rules that non-citizens must follow in order to obtain visas, whether temporary or permanent. If a non-citizen enters Australia without a visa they are classed as unlawful non-citizens.


Page last updated 20/09/2021

Next Section Immigration Law in Australia