29 Greek citizens holding tourist visas were turned back at Melbourne Airport in 2011-12 according to the Australian Immigration Department.
Neos Kosmos understands that the refusals were made because Immigration officials believed that the individuals concerned were not engaged in tourist travel, but were looking for employment.
The right to work in Australia is forbidden under the conditions of a tourist visa.
With their visas cancelled, those refused entry were deported back to Greece on the next available flight.
In some cases, those whose visas were cancelled were housed overnight in the Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre.
Melbourne was far and away the major entry point for Greek nationals turned back at the Australian border in the past 18 months, with other major airports accounting for a handful of other cases.
“In 2011-12 the total number of people [of all nationalities] refused immigration clearance at the Australian border all around the country was 2100,” an Immigration spokesperson told Neos Kosmos.
“In 2011-2012 the total number of Greek nationals refused immigration clearance at Melbourne airport was 29, so it’s not big numbers in the overall scheme of things,” she added.
Immigration confirmed that there has been one case of a Greek national being refused entry into Australia at Melbourne Airport since July 1 this year, and in the same period at Sydney Airport, four cases have been recorded.
“The most common reason for a refusal is because there are grounds to believe that the traveler does not genuinely intend to abide by the visa conditions, such as no work rights, ” said the spokesperson.
“If Immigration officers decide to interview a particular traveler and ask them about their intentions for staying in Australia, sometimes grounds are formed to believe that they may not be here for genuine tourist reasons and the officer has the right to refuse their visa and refuse entry.
“When that happens, we consult with the airlines as quickly as possible to get someone sent back to their country of origin straightaway. If we can’t do it the same day, that person may be detained overnight at an immigration detention centre.”
The Immigration Department said that other reasons for a visa to be cancelled on arrival relate to character and health.
A person who has committed serious offences overseas and served a jail term of longer than 12 months may be refused entry, particularly if they haven’t declared that information on their passenger card.
Likewise a traveler arriving in poor health can be regarded as presenting a potential burden to Australia’s health services and may be refused entry.