Albanese Government’s Afghan visa applications options
One year from the fall of Kabul to the Taliban and Australia has yet to process Afghan visas with more than 40,000 applications covering 211,000 people lodged. According to Minister Andrew Giles additional resources have been directed to help process visas.
Following the Taliban's takeover, Australia evacuated about 4,100 people on 32 flights, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) says. At the time subclass 449 emergency temporary humanitarian visas valid for a period of only three months were allocated to Afghans who had served with Australian troops. Those granted such visas experienced significant difficulties leaving Afghanistan and travelling to Australia. In November last year, a ministerial decision was made to deliver a 12-month extension to the temporary 449 visas.
Since August 2021, more than 7,000 subclass 449 visas have been issued and around 4,000 Afghans who arrived in Australia with 449 visas have been granted permanent visas. New information from the Department of Home Affair shows that more than 40 percent of Afghan protection visa applications are not yet registered with the department; the department is in the process of registering applications which were received last September.
Avenues are being evaluated to enable more visas to be made available, with other visa pathways under consideration including increasing the humanitarian intake. The government is prioritising women and girls as they are the most ‘at risk’ group under the Taliban regime as well as:
former Locally Engaged Employees (LEE) and their immediate family members.
subclass 449 Humanitarian Stay (Temporary) visa holders (current and former) and their immediate family members.
those with enduring links to Australia, such as Afghans who were employed by Australian non-government organisations or worked on Australian Government funded projects, and Coalition partner LEE and their immediate family; and
ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ and other identified minority groups.
These priority groups are in addition to the existing priorities in Australia’s offshore Humanitarian Program, which include split families, those with close ties to Australia and those with proposers residing in regional Australia.
Afghan nationals are also able to pursue other migration pathways to Australia depending on their circumstances, including through the Community Support Program, the Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement Pilot, the Family stream, and Skilled visa categories.
"We are applying an enormous number of resources to this problem because it is an enormous priority for the government," Mr Giles said.
More detailed information specifically relevant to Afghan refugees is available on the government website: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-and-support/afghanistan-update