According to Australian High Commissioner Andrew Goledzinowski, there are currently 33,000 Malaysians who have filed for refugee status having overstayed their visas in the country.
Goledzinowski also told The Malaysian Reserve that Malaysians were at the top of Australia’s list when it came to individuals overstaying their visas, with 10,500 at last count. This is more than the total number of people in the next three countries on the list combined.
Many of those who have overstayed their visas are students, or visitors, and the High Commissioner claims that they are using the country’s asylum claims due process to delay their deportation back home to Malaysia.
“They are doing it because they know we are a generous country. We take refugees seriously and they are trying to delay the time to be removed,” he said. While there were legitimate applications, the diplomat added that the sheer volume of claims made it “impossible to determine.”
He went on to say that bogus claims “shame” Malaysia, but that he and his counterparts in Kuala Lumpur were tackling the issue with educational outreach campaigns.
Some Malaysians in Australia claim to have been duped by agents promising work permits, only to arrive and find that none were given. The High Commissioner has said that “many agents are legitimate – but it doesn’t hurt for people to double check with the Australian government.
He concluded that if a deal seemed “too good to be true, it is probably not.” Ain’t that the truth, Goledzinowski.
Between July 2017 and April 2019, 4,973 Malaysians have applied for protection visas, according to statistics revealed by Australia’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Our own Deputy Foreign Minister, Marzuki Yahya, has cited several reasons, including family stress, racial and religious discrimination, and domestic abuse.
Australia has no plans to change the current system of electronic visas issued to Malaysians, with the High Commissioner saying that “Malaysians, by and large, appreciate the online application.”
“We have a relationship of trust with Malaysia. When you have a relationship of trust, there’s always somebody else out there looking to take advantage of that,” said the diplomat.
“We want to encourage visitors to come, but we want them to come according to their visa conditions.” He then advised Malaysians to apply three weeks before their intended travel date, as additional information is sometimes required during the process.
While 400,000 Malaysians visit Australia annually, between 3,000 to 4,000 will migrate there on a permanent basis.