Minister cancelling more visas for Sudanese
Sudanese citizens are increasingly having their visas cancelled through ministerial discretion, but are not among the top 10 nationalities to be removed from Australia.
Figures from Department of Home Affairs show ministerial discretion to cancel a visa on character grounds was used 56 times last financial year, and a further eight times in the three months to September 30.
Although New Zealand and British nationals dominated the figures — accounting for at least 30 cancellations since July 2017 — people from Sudan, Tonga and Lebanon were among the top five most common nationalities to have had visas cancelled by a Coalition minister.
No cancellations via ministerial discretion were listed for people from Sudan in the figures for 2015-16 or 2016-17, provided in response to a question on notice arising from Senate estimates. There were fewer than five last year and in the first three months of this financial year — enough to place Sudan among the top five.
These cancellations are separate to the mandatory cancellation of visas, which are triggered by serious criminal records where people have been sentenced to more than a year in prison.
The department last month revealed that for cancellations under both the automatic and discretionary powers last financial year, 620 were for New Zealanders, 124 for Britons, 55 for Vietnamese and 31 were for Sudanese.
Under the Migration Act, a visa “must” be cancelled if a minister is “satisfied” that a person has failed the character test. But a visa “may” be cancelled if the minister “reasonably suspects that the person does not pass the character test”.
Immigration Minister David Coleman this week said there would be “no tolerance for those who put Australians in danger”.
“Foreign nationals who think they can flout our laws and harm Australian citizens should expect to have their visa cancelled,” Mr Coleman said.
Many have sought to overturn their cancellations, and do not immediately leave Australia.
When it comes to actually removing foreigners from Australia, New Zealanders and Britons accounted for 126 of the 187 people to be kicked out in the three months to September 30, after having visas cancelled on character grounds.
Similarly, 391 New Zealanders and 56 British nationals were removed from Australia last financial year, with people from Vietnam, Fiji, India, China, Tonga, the US, The Philippines and Ireland also among the 10 most common nationalities to leave.
The Australian this week revealed 100 of more than 800 visas cancelled last year involved people convicted of child-sex offences or involvement in child exploitation.
Another 53 visas were cancelled for domestic violence and 34 over rapes and sexual assaults, while 125 were due to assault offences.