About immigration detention

​Who is 'unlawful'​?

People in Australia without a valid visa are unlawful non-citizens. This could have happened because:

  • they arrived here without a visa
  • they overstayed their visa
  • their visa was cancelled.

Unlawful non-citizens that do not engage Australia's international obligations and are not granted visa are liable for detention. They might be removed from Australia or transferred to an offshore processing centre in a regional processing country. The Republic of Nauru and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea are currently designated as Regional Processing Countries.​

Families with children

It is government policy that children will not be held in high security immigration detention centres.

Children might be accommodated in low security facilities within the immigration detention network to manage health, security and identity risks to themselves or their guardians. Facilities include immigration residential housing, immigration transit accommodation and alternative places of detention. 

Accompanied and unaccompanied minors

If a child does not have a parent or relative over the age of 21 years to care for them in Australia, we contract non-government organisations to provide care and services to them.

In line with community standards, children in immigration detention have access to primary and secondary schooling, including English language classes.

Immigration detention and community statistics

We provide regular updates to statistics on illegal maritime arrivals in immigration detention and in the community.

Current statistics

Previous statistics

​​​​​​​​​

Last reviewed

Wednesday 12 November 2014