Australia humanitarian and refugee visa

What are Australia humanitarian and Refugee visas?

Australia Humanitarian and refugee visa are designed to offer protection and resettlement opportunities to individuals who have fled their home countries due to persecution, conflict, or humanitarian crises. The Refugee Program was set up for individuals who are outside their home country and have a genuine fear of persecution if they return (usually referred to by UNHCR). The Special Humanitarian Program is for people who have family or other ties to Australia and have faced significant discrimination, amounting to a grave infringement of human rights, in their country of origin.

Australia offers several types of humanitarian and refugee visas to provide protection and resettlement opportunities for individuals facing persecution, conflict, or humanitarian crises in their home countries.

Here are the various types of Australia humanitarian and refugee visas:

  • Refugee Visa (Subclass 200)

The Refugee Visa (Subclass 200) in Australia is a critical component of the country’s commitment to humanitarian values. This visa category is designed for individuals who are outside Australia and meet the United Nations definition of a refugee, which entails a well-founded fear of persecution due to factors such as race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

Eligibility Criteria: Eligible applicants must also be sponsored by an eligible organization.

 Features: Once granted, the Refugee Visa provides refuge and permanent residency in Australia, offering individuals the opportunity to live, work, and study in the country without time limitations.

  • In-Country Special Humanitarian Visa (Subclass 201)

The In-Country Special Humanitarian Visa (Subclass 201) in Australia is a humanitarian visa designed for individuals who face substantial discrimination and persecution in their home country but are still residing there.

Eligibility Criteria: To be eligible, applicants must have an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen who is willing to propose them for this visa. Eligibility is based on the applicant’s need for protection and the proposer’s support.

Features: Once granted, this visa provides protection and a pathway to permanent residency in Australia, allowing recipients to live, work, and study in the country without time limitations. The In-Country Special Humanitarian Visa underscores Australia’s commitment to assisting individuals facing severe harm or persecution in their home country, even if they are still physically present in that location.

  • Temporary Protection Visa (Subclass 785)

The Temporary Protection Visa (Subclass 785) in Australia is granted to individuals who arrive in the country as unauthorized maritime arrivals and are found to engage Australia’s protection obligations.

Eligibility Criteria: To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate that they face a real risk of persecution or serious harm if returned to their home country.

Features: This visa provides temporary residence and allows holders to live and work in Australia for a specified period. While it does not offer permanent residency, it offers a vital lifeline to those in immediate need of protection, allowing them to rebuild their lives in Australia.

  • The Permanent Protection Visa (Subclass 866)

in Australia is designed for individuals who have arrived in the country on temporary visas and subsequently seek asylum due to a well-founded fear of persecution or serious harm in their home country.

Eligibility Criteria: requires demonstrating a protection need under categories such as race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, and being present in Australia at the time of application.

Features: Once granted, this visa offers permanent residency, allowing holders to live, work, and study in Australia indefinitely, with travel rights and access to social services. It also serves as a pathway to potential Australian citizenship. This visa underscores Australia’s commitment to providing protection and refuge to those genuinely in need.

  • Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (Subclass 790)
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The Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (Subclass 790) in Australia is designed for individuals who arrived in the country on or after August 13, 2012 and have resided in regional or designated areas. This visa encourages holders to contribute to the local economy by working and studying in these regions.

Eligibility Criteria: To be eligible, applicants must meet specific criteria related to their arrival date and regional residence.

Features: While the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa provides a pathway to temporary residence, it does not grant permanent residency. Nonetheless, it offers individuals the opportunity to establish themselves in Australia’s regional communities, encouraging integration and contributing to the country’s regional development.

  • Woman at Risk Visa (Subclass 204)

The Woman at Risk Visa (Subclass 204) in Australia is a humanitarian visa specifically designed for women who face persecution or serious harm due to their gender. This visa category recognizes the unique vulnerabilities and dangers that women may encounter in certain societies.

Eligibility Criteria: Eligibility for this visa is based on a genuine fear of persecution or harm solely because of one’s gender.

Features: Once granted, the Woman at Risk Visa provides protection and a pathway to permanent residency in Australia. It offers eligible women the opportunity to escape gender-based violence, discrimination, or other forms of persecution they may face in their home country, providing a safer and more secure environment for them to rebuild their lives.

  • Global Special Humanitarian Visa (Subclass 202)

The Global Special Humanitarian Visa (Subclass 202) in Australia is a humanitarian visa category designed for individuals who are outside Australia and seeking refuge due to substantial discrimination or persecution in their home country.

Eligibility Criteria:  To be eligible for this visa, applicants must be proposed by an eligible person or organization and meet specific criteria related to their need for protection.

Features: Once granted, the Global Special Humanitarian Visa offers refuge and permanent residency in Australia, allowing recipients to live, work, and study in the country without time limitations.

  • Emergency Rescue Visa (Subclass 203)

The Emergency Rescue Visa (Subclass 203) in Australia is a humanitarian visa category designed for individuals who require urgent rescue due to compelling and life-threatening circumstances.

Eligibility Criteria: Eligibility is based on immediate danger, and applicants must demonstrate a pressing need for protection. This visa is typically sought by individuals facing imminent harm, such as violence, persecution, or humanitarian crises in their home countries.

Features: Once granted, the Emergency Rescue Visa provides protection and facilitates the urgent resettlement of individuals in Australia, offering them a chance at safety and a fresh start away from the imminent danger they faced in their home country.

Further information is available on the Department of Home Affairs website.

Who Is Considered a Refugee?

According to Australia’s Migration Act 1958, a person is considered a refugee if they are;

  • Someone who lives outside of their home country.
  • Someone who has a “well-founded fear of persecution” and is unable to move back to their own country.

To be considered a refugee, an individual must meet specific criteria outlined by international law, particularly the United Nations definition of a refugee.

Here are the key criteria;

  1. Well-Founded Fear of Persecution: The individual must have a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country. Persecution can take various forms, including but not limited to, threats to life, physical harm, imprisonment, torture, discrimination, or severe violations of basic human rights. This fear must be reasonable and based on credible evidence.
  2. Unable to Return Safely: It must be established that the individual cannot return to their home country safely. This is often due to the ongoing threat of persecution or the absence of effective protection from the home country’s government.
  3. Not Involvement in Persecution: A refugee should not be involved in any acts of persecution themselves. Being a perpetrator of persecution disqualifies an individual from refugee status.
  4. Credible Evidence: To establish their refugee claim, individuals need to provide credible evidence, which can include personal testimonies, documents, or third-party witness accounts that support their claims of persecution and fear.
  5. Grounds for Persecution: The persecution must be due to one or more of the following factors;
    • Race: The individual is targeted because of their race or ethnicity.
    • Religion: The individual is persecuted because of their religious beliefs or practices.
    • Nationality: Persecution is based on the individual’s nationality.
    • Political Opinion: The individual is targeted due to their political opinions or affiliations.
    • Membership in a Particular Social Group: Persecution arises from the person’s membership in a specific social group, which can include characteristics like gender, sexual orientation, or membership in a particular community.
    • Outside Their Home Country: The person must be outside their home country. Refugees are individuals who have fled their home country due to fear of persecution and are seeking refuge in another country.
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What Documents Do I Need for a Australia Humanitarian and Refugee Visa?

You will need the following documents to be able to apply for a humanitarian and refugee visa in Australia;

  • Valid Passport.
  • Visa Application Form.
  • Photographs and Biometrics.
  • Family Certificates.
  • Health Requirements.
  • Good Character Documents.
  • Australia’s Values Statement.
  • Copies of Earlier Visas.
  • Form 956a or Form 956.
  • For humanitarian visas 200, 201, 202, 203, and 204 you will also need to submit:
  • Proof of Humanitarian Circumstances.
  • Two photographs.
  • Parental Consent Form 1229.
  • A statutory declaration (if the parental consent form is not applicable).
  • Form 1257.
  • Form 842 (only for global visa 202).

How Long Does an Australia Humanitarian and Refugee Visa Last in Australia?

For individuals seeking protection and resettlement, it is important you get a proper understanding of the duration of humanitarian and refugee visas in Australia. These visas are designed to offer refuge to those facing persecution, conflict, or humanitarian crises in their home countries. However, the length of stay may be different depending on the specific subclass of the visa and the circumstances of the visa holder.

Australia Humanitarian and refugee visas are issued for a period of many years:

  • The duration of a temporary protection visa is three years.
  •  The safe haven enterprise visa lasts for five years, 
  • While the Humanitarian Visas 200, 201, 202, 203, 204 and the Global Special Humanitarian Visa (Subclass 202) last indefinitely.

How do I get an Australian humanitarian and Refugee visa?

To apply for an Australia humanitarian and refugee visa, start by assessing your eligibility for the specific visa subclass you intend to apply for, as eligibility criteria can vary. Collect all necessary supporting documents, including proof of refugee status and character assessments.

Apply online through the official Australian government website, paying the required visa application fees. Undergo health and character checks as specified. If including family members, provide their information and documentation.

Be patient during the processing period, respond to any inquiries from the Department of Home Affairs, and keep your contact information updated. Seek legal advice or assistance if needed.

Once your application is processed, you’ll receive a notification of the outcome, and if granted, follow the provided instructions for visa activation and compliance with conditions.

For precise and updated details, refer to the official Department of Home Affairs website.

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What are the Costs and Processing Time for Australia Humanitarian and Refugee Visa?

The cost of a humanitarian and refugee visa varies depending on the type of visa:

  • Subclass 866, 785, and 790 protection visas cost AUD$40 upwards.
  • Subclasses 200, 201, 203, and 204 of the Humanitarian Visa are free of charge.

Unless you wish to apply through the Community Support Program, the Global Special Humanitarian Visa subclass 202 is free of charge.

Under normal circumstances, the Australia Humanitarian and Refugee visas take up to 12-18 months.

FAQs on the Australia Humanitarian and Refugee Visa

Q: What is the difference between a permanent protection visa and a temporary protection visa in Australia?

Ans: The key distinction is in the duration of stay. A Permanent Protection Visa (Subclass 866) grants permanent residency and allows an indefinite stay in Australia. In contrast, Temporary Protection Visas (Subclass 785) offer temporary protection for a specific period, usually up to three years, with the possibility of renewal based on ongoing protection needs.

Q: Can I work in Australia on a humanitarian or refugee visa?

Ans: Yes, humanitarian and refugee visa holders in Australia generally have work rights, allowing them to seek employment and contribute to the Australian economy. Specific work conditions may vary depending on the visa subclass, so it’s essential to check the conditions of your visa.

Q: Are there specific requirements for family members included in my visa application?

Ans: Yes, there are requirements for including family members in your visa application, and these may vary by visa subclass. Typically, you need to provide proof of family relationships and meet specific eligibility criteria for each family member.

Q: How long does the application process for a humanitarian or refugee visa typically take?

Ans: The processing time can vary widely depending on factors such as the visa subclass, the complexity of your case, and the volume of applications. It’s advisable to check the estimated processing times on the official Department of Home Affairs website for the most accurate information.

Q: Can I apply for Australian citizenship after obtaining a humanitarian or refugee visa?

Ans: Yes, in most cases, Australia humanitarian and refugee visa holders can apply for Australian citizenship once they meet the residency and other eligibility requirements. Citizenship eligibility is typically based on the number of years spent as a permanent resident in Australia.

Q: What happens if my visa application is rejected? Is there an appeals process?

Ans: If your visa application is rejected, you may have the option to appeal the decision, depending on the circumstances. The appeals process can be complex and varies by visa subclass. It’s essential to seek legal advice if your application is denied to understand your options.

Q: Are there any financial costs associated with applying for a humanitarian and refugee visa, and are there fee waivers available?

Ans: Yes, there are application fees associated with most Australia humanitarian and refugee visa types. The fees can vary based on the visa subclass and individual circumstances. Some applicants may be eligible for fee waivers or concessions based on financial hardship or specific criteria. It’s advisable to check the official Department of Home Affairs website for the latest fee information and waiver eligibility.

Q: Is a Protection Visa the same as a Humanitarian Visa?

Ans: Humanitarian and protection visas are both part of the humanitarian and refugee migration policy, however, they are not the same visa. The duration of the visa, the restrictions, the cost, and who is eligible for a protection visa and who is eligible for a humanitarian visa will always vary.

By Michael

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