Australia, Perth

Around 320 visas of Bhutanese cancelled from 2010 to 2024

With tightening visa restrictions and rules in Australia, The Bhutanese sent queries to Australia’s Department of Home Affairs asking the number of visas held by Bhutanese nationals that have been cancelled, from the financial year 2010 – 11 to 2023 – 24 (to 31 March 2024).

The Department got back saying around 320 visas of Bhutanese had been cancelled in this period in four categories.

These are s109 which is Incorrect information or bogus documents with 6 cancellations and s116 which are general cancellations with 81 cases.

There is s128 where the visa holder is offshore and there was a general cancellation power available with 231 cancellations and s501 which is cancellation as the person does not meet the character test which is under five cases.

The paper asked for a year wise break up and more details on the circumstances of the cancellations but the Department refused due to privacy concerns but going by the data and common sense it can be assumed the many cancellations have happened in the last few years due to the huge number of Bhutanese getting visas.

In an updated response the Home Affairs department said that visas of around 140 Bhutanese have been cancelled from 2020-21 to 2023-24 (30th April) which include s109, s128, s501, s116 and an additional category called s140. s140 is cancellation of dependant visas due to the cancelletion of the main visa holder.

S116 or section 116 is the power to cancel the visa on various grounds like the decision to grant the visa was based, wholly or partly, on a particular fact or circumstance that is no longer the case or that no longer exists, its holder has not complied with a condition of the visa, in the case of a student visa its holder is not, or is likely not to be, a genuine student, the visa holder’s presence in Australia is or may be, or would or might be, a risk to the health, safety or good order of the Australian community, etc.

Section 128 is when the Minister is satisfied that there is a ground for cancelling a visa under section 116 and it is appropriate to cancel in accordance with this Subdivision; and the non – citizen is outside Australia and the Minister may, without notice to the holder of the visa, cancel the visa.

The Home Affairs also says a visa may be cancelled you were non-compliant with visa conditions, you did not meet their character requirements and you provided false information on your visa application.

It also says you must be of good character to visit or remain in Australia.

In the case of student visas the Home Affairs says they may cancel a student visa if a student is no longer enrolled in a registered course.

The Department may  cancel your student visa if you complete the course for which you were granted your student visa and you do not leave Australia or apply for a new visa within 3 months.

It may be cancelled if you have changed courses since you were granted your student visa and your new Confirmation of Enrolment for your principal course has an earlier end date and you do not leave Australia or apply for a new visa within 28 days of completing the course.

A third reason is when you are studying more than one course on your visa (course packaging) and you finish a course early and have a gap between courses of more than 2 months (except if this gap occurs between the end of an academic year and the beginning of a new academic year.)

A visa can also be cancelled for Biosecurity contraventions. The Minister has the power to cancel some visitor, student and work visas in immigration clearance if people fail to meet the requirements to answer questions about goods on the incoming passenger card, do not follow directions given by a Biosecurity officer in relation to goods or baggage and provide false or misleading information or documents to a Biosecurity officer.

If the Department cancels a visa, people may be able to apply for a review of the decision. They cannot appeal a decision if the Minister made the decision personally. The independent Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) is responsible for undertaking merits review of departmental decisions, including visa cancellation decisions. 

Appeals have strict time limits. Applicants must apply in writing within the time specified by the Department in the decision notification letter.

People may also seek judicial review if they believe the refusal or cancellation decision was not lawfully made.

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