Australian’s Refugee Program

What is New?

More than 1,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees are resettling in Australia after being granted special humanitarian visas, but this is just a fraction of the estimated number of those forced from their homes by the advance of Islamic State militants.

It is also only about a quarter of the 4,400 special humanitarian visas the government said it was setting aside in August 2014.

This week, a report from a roundtable of former ministers and refugee advocates urged the government to dramatically boost Australia’s overall humanitarian intake to at least 25,000 – nearly double the current visa figure of 13,750 per year.

About 75% of those arriving from Iraq and Syria have been provided with settlement assistance on behalf of the government by Settlement Services International in Sydney.

The offshore component of Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Program is designed for people outside Australia who are in need of humanitarian resettlement. The offshore program has two categories:

  • The Refugee category for people subject to persecution in their country of origin and who are refugees as defined by the 1951 Refugee Convention; and
  • The Special Humanitarian Program category for people who, while not being refugees, are subject to substantial discrimination amounting to a gross violation of their human rights in their country of origin

Who is this visa for?

Refugee Program visas are for people who are subject to persecution in their home country and who are in need of resettlement. The majority of applicants who are considered under this category are identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and referred to the Australian Government by the UNHCR. There are four subclasses within the Refugee Program:

  • Refugee Visa (Subclass 200), for people who are subject to persecution in their country of origin and are in need of resettlement.
  • In-country Special Humanitarian Program Visa (Subclass 201), which offers resettlement to people who have suffered persecution in their country of origin and who have not been able to leave that country to seek refuge elsewhere.
  • Emergency Rescue Visa (Subclass 203), which offers an accelerated processing arrangement for people who satisfy refugee criteria and whose lives or freedom depend on urgent resettlement.
  • Woman at Risk Visa (Subclass 204), for female applicants and their dependents who are subject to persecution or are 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.

To see if you are eligible to apply for a humanitarian visa to Australia, please contact us