The cut-off date for asylum seekers who arrived by boat some years ago to claim protection or risk deportation has arrived.
The deadline has arrived for asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by boat several years ago to claim protection or leave the country.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has given thousands of people who arrived by sea between late 2012 and early 2014 until Sunday to "lodge it or leave".
More than 6000 people have applied for protection since the cut-off date was announced in May.
However, some 600 asylum seekers had not submitted paperwork five days out from the October 1 deadline.
The immigration department could not say how many people had still not lodged their claims by the end of the week.
The department has indicated it will deal swiftly with those who do not apply, considering it an indication the person no longer intends to seek protection in Australia.
Those who do not apply will be stripped of income support, barred from applying for any Australian visa, booted out of the country and banned from re-entering.
The government is concerned "fake refugees" are bleeding taxpayers of welfare dollars and may have lived in the community for years without proper scrutiny of their backgrounds.
Immigration lawyers and opposition parties have roundly condemned the "arbitrary and unnecessary" deadline, but have urged those affected to engage in the process.
The government only lifted the bar for some asylum seekers to claim protection late last year and many have been on waiting lists to receive legal assistance.
Community legal centres have been in overdrive to clear the backlog and help those who have come forward since the cut-off date was announced.
But lawyers are warning asylum seekers that lodging their paperwork is just the first step in a long and complex process to secure Australia's protection.