Australia has two Programs for those who wish to come to Australia to live permanently:
- Migration Program and
- Humanitarian Program
From 15 February 2012, the validity period for Resident Return Visas was reduced from 5 years to one year where the applicant has not lived in Australia for more than 2 of the last 5 years.
The Migration Program has two main components:
- Skilled Stream and
- Family Stream
- Employer Sponsored Migration
- General Skilled Migration
- Business Innovation and Investment Migration
- Special Migration
- Partner Migration
- Child Migration
- Parent Migration
- Other Family Migration
The Humanitarian Program is designed specifically for refugees and others in special humanitarian need.
The Refugee and Humanitarian visas includes:
- Refugee (Subclass 200) visa (Class XB)
- In-country Special Humanitarian (Subclass 201) visa (Class XB)
- Global Special Humanitarian (Subclass 202) visa (Class XB)
- Emergency Rescue (Subclass 203) visa (Class XB)
- Woman at Risk (Subclass 204) visa (Class XB)
- Protection (Subclass 866) visa (Class XA)
The minimum annual combined total number of Protection (Class XA) and Refugee and Humanitarian (Class XB) visas that the Minister must take all reasonably practicable measures to ensure are granted in a specified financial year is as follows:
- for the financial year starting 1 July 2015 – 13,750 Class XA and Class XB visas;
- for the financial year starting 1 July 2016 – 13,750 Class XA and Class XB visas;
- for the financial year starting 1 July 2017 – 16,250 Class XA and Class XB visas;
- for the financial year starting 1 July 2018 – 18,750 Class XA and Class XB visas.
The Refugee (Subclass 200) visa is a permanent visa for applicants outside Australia, living outside their home country and who are persecuted in their home country. To be considered for resettlement in Australia under this visa, applicants would usually need to be referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the Australian Government.
In-country Special Humaniatarian
The In-country Special Humanitarian (Subclass 201) visa is a permanent visa for applicants who are living in and subject to persecution in their home country, and who have not been able to leave that country to seek refuge elsewhere.
Global Special Humanitarian
The Global Special Humanitarian (Subclass 202) visa is a permanent visa for applicants who are outside Australia, are living outside their home country, who are subject to substantial discrimination amounting to a gross violation of their human rights in their home country, and who are proposed by a person or organisation in Australia.
The Emergency Rescue (Subclass 203) visa is a permanent visa for applicants who are subject to persecution in their home country and face an immediate threat to their life or personal security. To be considered for resettlement in Australia under this visa, applicants would usually need to be referred by the UNHCR to the Australian Government.
Woman at Risk
The Woman at Risk (Subclass 204) visa is a permanent visa for applicants who are outside Australia, living outside their home country, do not have the protection of a male relative and are in danger of victimisation, harassment or serious abuse because of their gender. To be considered for resettlement in Australia under this visa, applicants would usually need to be referred by the UNHCR to the Australian Government.
To be granted a Protection (Subclass 866) visa applicants will need to be found to engage Australia’s protection obligations because they either:
• are a refugee as defined by the Refugees Convention
• meet the Complementary Protection criteria in the Australian Migration Act 1958.
Applicants might also be eligible for a Protection visa if they are the family member of a person found to engage Australia's protection obligations. Applicants and any eligible family members included in the application must be in Australia when they apply for this visa.
Onshore Protection Programme Update
From 18 April 2015, the Migration Regulations 1994 were amended to support the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Act 2014 (the RALC Act) and the Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Act 2015 (the POM Act).
Australia’s protection status determination process has now been reformed by these two pieces of legislation (the RALC Act and the POM Act).
Together, these Acts introduce Temporary Protection visas (TPV), Safe Haven Enterprise visas (SHEV), a faster assessment process, increased robustness and greater integrity. It also means that the Department can move forward with the Government’s commitment to resolving the 30,000 illegal maritime arrival (IMA) legacy caseload, including finalising those outstanding permanent Protection visa applications that were converted by the RALC Act to applications for TPVs, and inviting those who have not yet applied to have their claims assessed.
The RALC Act also established the Fast Track Assessment process. The protection claims of onshore IMAs who entered Australia on or after 13 August 2012 but before 1 January 2014 (known as the legacy caseload) will be considered under the Fast Track Assessment process. It is intended to make the process of applying for protection more efficient and effective by amending the process for review pathways following primary assessment and reducing the timeframes for applicants to provide further information and/or respond to adverse information.
Another major element of RALC Act was the inclusion of conversion provisions. These provisions mean that applications for a permanent Protection Visa (PPV) in the legacy caseload that had not been finalised by 16 December 2014 have been converted to an application for a TPV. It also means that IMAs cannot apply for or be granted a PPV.
The POM Act includes enhanced integrity measures that apply to all applicants for protection, regardless of their mode of arrival.
TPVs provide for stay in Australia of up to three years. IMAs who apply for a TPV are assessed as engaging Australia’s protection obligations and meet all the criteria for the grant of the visa, will be granted a TPV. At expiry, a TPV holder can apply for another TPV or a SHEV. They will need to meet all the criteria for the visa, including being found to engage Australia’s protection obligations.
SHEV (once available) will provide for five years stay in Australia. SHEV applicants will need to indicate an intention to work and/or study in regional Australia to be granted a SHEV. If, for at least 42 months of the five years of the SHEV, at least one visa holder in the family unit has been: employed in ‘regional Australia’ and not receiving any social security benefits or enrolled in full-time study in regional Australia or a combination of the above they will be able to apply for other onshore visas (but not a permanent Protection visa).