Australian Refugee and Humanitarian Visas
Australia is one of 27 countries that offer resettlement places for refugees. Ten countries have established annual resettlement programmes of 500 or more (UNHCR referred) refugee places. Australia consistently ranks in the top three resettlement countries, along with the United States (US) and Canada, who collectively provide over 80 per cent of global resettlement places.
Australia is an active participant with other countries, UN agencies and international non-government organisations (NGOs) who work together to find solutions to the plight of refugees and displaced persons through the system of international refugee protection.
This commitment is expressed through Australia’s Humanitarian Programme, which responds to international humanitarian situations through the resettlement of people to Australia and the protection of people who have arrived in Australia legally and are found to require protection.
Australia’s Humanitarian Program has two important functions:
The onshore component of the Humanitarian Program aims to provide options for people who wish to apply for protection (or asylum) after arrival legally in Australia.
The onshore component of the programme is (since September 2013) reserved for people who have arrived legally, seek Australia’s protection, and who are found to be refugees in line with the Refugees Convention definition or Australia’s complementary protection obligations.
People seeking asylum are assessed, on a case-by-case basis, against the Refugees Convention definition with reference to detailed and current information on conditions in their home country. This assessment also takes into account Australia’s obligations under other human rights treaties to which Australia is a party, namely the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).
They must also satisfy health, character and security criteria before they are granted permanent Protection visas. People who are found not to be people in respect of whom Australia has protection obligations and who have no lawful basis to remain in Australia are required by law to be removed as soon as practicable. Australia’s fundamental obligation under the Refugees Convention is to not return a person to a country where there is a real risk that they may be killed, tortured or suffer cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Complementary protection may be provided to people who are not refugees as defined by the Refugees Convention but who face a real risk of significant harm if they were to be returned to their home country
A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.
An internally displaced person (IDP) is a person who has been forced to flee his or her home for the same reason as a refugee, but remains in his or her own country and has not crossed an international border. Unlike refugees, IDPs are not protected by international law or eligible to receive many types of aid. As the nature of war has changed in the last few decades, with more and more internal conflicts replacing wars among countries, the number of IDPs has increased significantly.
A stateless person is someone who is not a citizen of any country. Citizenship is the legal bond between a government and an individual, and allows for certain political, economic, social and other rights of the individual, as well as the responsibilities of both government and citizen. A person can become stateless due to a variety of reasons, including sovereign, legal, technical or administrative decisions or oversights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights underlines that “Everyone has the right to a nationality.”
When people flee their own country and seek sanctuary in another country, they apply for asylum – the right to be recognized as a refugee and receive legal protection and material assistance. An asylum seeker must demonstrate that his or her fear of persecution in his or her home country is well-founded.
An economic migrant normally leaves a country voluntarily to seek a better life. Should he or she decide to return home, they would continue to receive the protection of his or her government. Refugees flee because of the threat of persecution and cannot return safely to their homes.
The 1951 Geneva Convention is the main international instrument of refugee law. The Convention clearly spells out who a refugee is and the kind of legal protection, other assistance and social rights he or she should receive from the countries who have signed the document. The Convention also defines a refugee’s obligations to host governments and certain categories or people, such as war criminals, who do not qualify for refugee status. The Convention was limited to protecting mainly European refugees in the aftermath of World War II, but another document, the 1967 Protocol, expanded the scope of the Convention as the problem of displacement spread around the world.
Yes, the 1951 Convention only protects persons who meet the criteria for refugee status. Certain categories of people are considered not to deserve refugee protection and should be excluded from such protection. This includes persons for whom there are serious reasons to suspect that:
Either they have committed a crime against peace, a war crime, a crime against humanity or a serious non-political crime outside their country of refuge; or they are guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Examples of persecution include:
The discrimination may include:
On average, the Service Standard for processing Offshore Australian Humanitarian Visas is 12 months.
For Offshore Humanitarian visas there is NO fee. For Onshore Humanitarian visas there is a fee of $35.00 AUD
The offshore resettlement comprises of five main Australian permanent visas. These are:
1. Refugee: for people who have fled persecution in their home country and are living outside their home country.
2. In-country Special Humanitarian Programme: only a small number of visas are granted under this subclass for people living in their home country who are subject to persecution.
3. Emergency Rescue: only a small number of visas are granted under this subclass for people outside their home country who are in urgent need of protection because there is an imminent threat to their life and security. All applicants for this subclass are referred by UNHCR.
4. Woman at Risk: for women and their dependants who are subject to persecution in their home country or registered as being ‘of concern’ to UNHCR, are living outside their home country without the protection of a male relative and are in danger of victimisation, harassment or serious abuse because of their gender. This visa recognises the priority given by UNHCR to the protection of refugee women who are in particularly vulnerable circumstances.
5. Special Humanitarian Programme (SHP): The SHP category is for people who are subject to substantial discrimination amounting to gross violation of their human rights and who are living outside their home country. Applications for SHP visas must be accompanied by a proposal from an eligible Australian citizen or permanent resident, an eligible New Zealand citizen, or an organisation operating in Australia. If the SHP application is successful, proposers help the applicant pay for their travel to Australia and assist with their accommodation and initial orientation in Australia.
Our staff are originally from the Middle East and also speak Arabic. We understand and are familiar with all historical and current events in the Middle East. We are familiar with the majority of persecution claims from the Middle East, including religious and political persecution, honor killings, ethnic discrimination. We are experienced in providing advice and handling Refugee migration matters in a professional and sensitive manner. Refugee and Humanitarian Visa applications are not just a form filling exercise. We will undertake all the necessary Country Research and investigate your claims of persecution and present your case to the Department in the strongest possible manner.
We have helped citizens from Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Nepal, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt successfully migrate to Australia as Refugees.