Refugees in limbo now eligible for permanent visa in Australia
Around 19,000 refugees living under temporary protection or safe haven visas soon will be able to apply for permanent residency as Labor’s immigration minister Andrew Giles has said that it makes no sense to keep these people in limbo.
This change fulfills a Labor promise at the last election to end the use of temporary protection visas and open permanent residency options to those eligible.
The temporary protection or safe haven visa holders have been working, paying taxes and contributing to Australia’s economy for many years but have been unable to perform routine tasks such as getting a housing and other loans or pursing education, having their immediate family members - children and spouse join them in Australia, all because of their visa status.
“There is a sense of future, there is finally hope, I am finally Australian. Before I was scared, I was not going to get my scholarship renewed, but now I can study law,” Mohammad Daghagheleh, a paralegal at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASCR) who is currently on a TPV said in a statement issued by the ASRC.
This change applies only to those who entered Australia before Operation Sovereign Borders commenced on 18 September 2013 and who hold or have applied for a protection visa. These people will have access to permanent resolution of status visa, which permits access to welfare payments, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and higher education loans. The Australian government has allocated $9.4 million over two years for visa application assistance to affected refugees which will be provided through specialist legal service providers.
However, around 12,000 people who either failed or are still subject to the ‘Fast Track’ process, including some 5,000 who have a TPV or SHEV under a merits or judicial review and will have to wait for a decision before being able to move to the next step. About 2,500 people have had the TPV or SHEV cancelled or refused without appealing any further and will not be able to access the track to residency. Finally, there are 70,000 people seeking asylum and refugee status in Australia who won’t be covered under the change announced.
Operation Sovereign Borders will continue and will apply to anyone who tries to enter Australia without a valid visa, they will be turned away. The Australian Defence and Border Force will be ramping up regional patrols to ensure that boats movement remains unchanged.