Related Story: Missing Games athletes contact Sydney refugee service

There are "significantly more" than 19 athletes and officials missing since the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, a refugee legal advocacy group says.

The visa deadline officially expired at midnight on Tuesday, and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has threatened to deport any athletes who outstay their visa conditions.

The Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) said a number of athletes had reached out for legal advice but would not confirm how many.

"For some of the athletes we have seen at our centre we have seen bridging visas granted, as is the process as is expected under the law," RACS principal solicitor Sarah Dale said.

"We've certainly seen a wide range of people from a number of different African countries for a number of different reasons.

"We know there's been political unrest in the region, which may lead to some people seeking protection here."

Ms Dale said the athletes were not gaming the system.

"This is a normal situation for us — that people would be [in Australia] for another reason and then walk into our office and say 'this is the situation in my home country and I fear returning'," she said.

"Harm is harm — if someone fears harm based on a conflict in Syria or someone fears harm based on their sexuality in an African nation, our position is they ought to be protected."

Composite photo of eight missing Cameroon athletes from Commonwealth Games Village on Queensland's Gold Coast.

Visa applications a 'torturous' process

Brisbane resident Tawanda Karasa said he could relate to what the athletes were going through.

Originally from Zimbabwe, Mr Karasa sought asylum after travelling to Australia for the Homeless Football World Cup in 2008.

"When I arrived in Australia I made the decision to remain in Australia," Mr Karasa said.

"Because of my involvement with human rights activism and the Homeless World Cup, I became a target and I knew my life was at risk."

Tawanda Karasa stands next to a tree in a park in Brisbane on May 16, 2018.

Mr Karasa said applying for a visa was a convoluted and sometimes "torturous" process.

"It took me about three to four months to get permanent residency, but I know for some of my colleagues it took two years," Mr Karasa said.

"Your future is uncertain, you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow — that is a mental challenge to manage. It's not an easy process."

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