An increasing number of Irish nationals are overstaying their Australian visas, according to an article in Australia's Irish Echo.
Figures show the country Down Under now has 1,075 Irish people living there unlawfully, a 24 percent increase from last year.
Ireland's ongoing economic recession appears to be the primary reason that large numbers of Irish are taking the risk to stay past their visa's expiry date.
Michael, a labourer in Sydney, was waiting to get a new passport before he left the country to travel in Asia before going to work in New Zealand.
“I applied for my new passport through the Irish Embassy when I lost mine. I knew it would probably be pushing it with just six weeks left on my visa so I rang up the Department of Immigration," Michael told the Irish Echo.
“I laid it out straight with them, I told them my situation and just asked if I could get an extension on my visa until my new passport came though,” he said.
“I spoke to a guy in Immigration who sent me out the forms to apply for a visa extension. I filled out all these forms and sent them off. But then I was told that I had filled out the wrong forms and I was running out of time. My visa ran out in March and so now I’m just waiting for Immigration to knock at the door and kick me out of the country.”
He said his chances for getting work in Ireland are so slim, that he believes he is better off working illegally in Australia.
“If I went home I would just end up on the dole, there’s just no work for me there."
Barry, also a labourer in Sydney, said: “When you’ve got no other options at home you might as well stay here illegally."
“I had planned on going home but realised I wouldn’t have enough money to live on, especially if there wasn’t a job to go home to.
“I needed to stay to make money and then it just got too late to leave. My visa has been up since March.”
Barry said he isn’t worried if he gets caught. He claimed a friend of his was able to emigrate to another country, even after he was found to have overstayed his visa.
“One of my mates stayed illegally for nearly a year and then he booked flights to Canada and went and confessed all to the Department of Immigration.
“He got away without a record because he showed them his flight details and said he was leaving immediately. He’s looking for work in Canada now,” Barry said.
He added he is worried that employers will become suspicious of Irish people.
There is also concern that an increase in Irish overstaying their visas will lead to Ireland being tagged as a ‘high risk’ country for future visas.
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