In October of 2017 I was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment with 4 months to serve over drug offences committed in 2015 (more about that here). Due to receiving a sentence over 12 months and despite only having to serve 4 months, my Subclass 444 visa was cancelled and my chances of returning to the community following prison were gone.
The day my prison sentence ended on January 29th 2018 I was transferred into the custody of SERCO; a private security company that owns & manages all of the detention centres across Australia. After living in Australia for over 13 years, half of my life, I was now faced with the decision of voluntarily being deported or spending more time behind bars whilst fighting to revoke the cancellation of my visa. I decided to fight it.
If you're reading this and know someone who's facing deportation than below is need to know. If you're reading this frommin detention (assuming this site isn't blocked at the centre you're being detained) then this is exactly the story you should be reading right now.
What is Immigration Detention?
Immigration Detention is where all non-citizens of a country are held whom are facing deportation. Similar to a prison but with all the comforts of home, Immigration Detention holds both criminals, visa disputers, & refugees. Unless you voluntarily return to your country of birth, an Immigration Dentention Centre is where you will be held whilst you fight to re-enter the country you're being deported from.
As you can imagine, the criminal element found in prison is very much found in Immigration Dentention. If you've come from prison this shouldn't concern you, however if you're a refugee/your visa simply expired this is not a place you want to call home for long; belongings go missing, fights are common, and security is high.
Choosing to reside in an Immigration Detention Centre should be your last resort. You can still oppose a visa decision after being deported, which I did. After 2 months in Immigration Detention and being moved to the Christmas Island centre, far from any family or friends, I decided to voluntarily return to New Zealand and continue my visa battle there. A week after returning my lawyer called eith news that my revokation application was a success and my visa has since been reinstated. This may work for you too, or it may not. Below I explain more thoroughly the process of reinstating your visa.
What does it mean to lose your visa?
Losing your visa due to a criminal offence means that you can no longer enter that country, ever again, under any circumstance. Under Section 501 of the Australian Migration Act any person holding a Subclass 444 visa that is sentenced to a term of imprisonment greater than 12 months will receive a mandatory cancellation of their Subclass 444 visa; the visa New Zealand citizens attain automatically when entering Australia.
Any person other than those with criminal offences such as students or workers with expired visas or refugees, may apply to return within a certain time. From recollection expired visa holders must wait 3 years before applying to enter the country again.
If you're wondering what visa class you hold and what information pertains to you visit https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au
How I got my visa back & how you can too?
Whilst in prison I received notification of my visa being cancelled via prison mail. Every person under Section 501 that receives this notice has 28 days to respond with their revokation application. Because this isn't nearly enough time to submit a thorough case it's best to fill this out as best as possible and inform Home Affairs (formerly known as The Department of Immigration & Border Patrol) that you intend to submit supporting documents therafter.
After submitting the initial application I spent every day gathering supporting documents with the help of my mother. These documents included: Character References from close family, friends & colleagues within Australia; Evidence of your time residing in the Australian community; Medical history, for those who have medical issues surrounding their offending; Prison reports, if you were well behaved in prison; Any other evidence to prove you're of good character.
Ultimately your goal is to convince those processing your application that you're of good chracter. If you're a violent or sexual offender then your chances of proving this is slim. If you're not & you're a first time offender like myself, then your chances of having your visa reinstated is high. Under Section 501 6(a) to 6(d) a person of good character must prove that; 1. They're are not a threat to the Australian Community & 2. There is no risk of reoffending. It is best to submit a thorough statement addressing your offending(both present and past), the circumstances surrounding your offending, and the steps you're taking to ensure you never offend again. Don't try bullshitting Home Affairs either because unless you have evidence to support what you're saying they won't take your application seriously.
I was fortunate enough to prove myself to be of good character thanks to my rehabilitation in the two years I was on bail & the chracter references provided by my family, friends & colleagues.If your application isn't successful there is the option to fight against it in court. However be warned, this is a long process as I've met a few detainees who'd been in detention for over 6 years; I wouldn't wish that on anyone.
I hope this has given you all some insight as to what New Zealand detainees face when losing their visas. If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to drop them in the comments below. For those following me on Steemit, now you know why I haven't been active for so long as Ive been through a bit of a battle. I'll post again addressing Steemians directly soon.
Peace & love