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Foreign nationals

Information about the rights of prisoners who are citizens of another country.

When a prisoner is first taken into prison the staff must find out the nationality of each prisoner. If a prisoner is a foreign national, prison staff must ask the prisoner if they would like their consulate or embassy to be notified about their detention.

The prisoner must be told that they have the right to have their embassy or consulate informed about their detention and make it clear that they can ask for this right at any time in the future.

The prison must allow visits by the relevant embassy/consulate at least once a month as requested.

Vietnamese or Chinese nationals

If the person is a Chinese or Vietnamese national the prison staff must make interpreters available if they are needed. The prisoners must also be told about their continuing right to have the prison contact their embassy. If the prisoner says 'yes' or if they do not answer, then the embassy must be contacted within 3 days.

If there is a death in custody, the Vietnamese or Chinese embassies are to be informed immediately and a death certificate forwarded on request.

See 3.0 in DCI 1.11 Reception, care and control of prisoners in Deputy Commissioner's instructions.

Prisoners who are not Australian citizens

Prisoners who are not Australian citizens must have their visas cancelled if they:

  • are currently serving a full time prison sentence, and
  • have been sentenced to prison for 12 months or more, or
  • have been found guilty of a sex offence involving a child, or
  • have been sentenced to life imprisonment or death.

In other cases the Department of Immigration and Border Protection may cancel a person's via if they reasonably suspect that the person does not pass the character test.

For details about this see Migration issues for prisoners—Cancelling a visa on character grounds.

More information


Deputy Commissioner's Instructions

See DCI 1.11 Reception, care and control of prisoners in Deputy Commissioner's instructions.