Australia: Refugees to get permanent visas immediately

14 May 2008

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Australia will now allow all successful asylum applicants to be granted permanent residence visas immediately. Previously, asylum applicants who landed in Australia and were considered "unauthorized arrivals" were only granted a temporary visa as a first step.

The change fulfils an election commitment by Prime Minister Rudd's government to remove the "unjust" Temporary Protection Visa (TPV). Starting in early 2008-09, people who are successful in their asylum applications will receive a permanent visa, regardless of how they arrived in the country.

Under the arrangements setup by the previous government, refugees who traveled to Australia illegally -- but were owed protection because of international obligations -- were only allowed a TPV when they arrived. As a result, these individuals had no travel rights, had reduced refugee settlement services (such as English language training), and no employment or income assistance. In addition, they could not be reunited with family members.

Approximately 1000 people in Australia are currently residing there under a TPV. These individuals will have their status resolved and have access to the same benefits as those who hold Permanent Protection Visas.

"Provided they meet security and character requirements, they will be granted permanent residency in Australia and will not need to have their protection claims reassessed," said Immigration Minister Chris Evans.

"There is clear evidence that the TPV arrangements did nothing to prevent unauthorized boat arrivals and, in fact, arrival numbers increased not long after the regime was introduced," he added.