In an announcement made last week, Immigration Minister Andrew Giles announced that all the refugees who were in Australia on the three year Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) (subclass 785) or the five Safe Heaven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) (subclass 790) would now be able to apply for Permanent Residency through the permanent Resolution of Status (RoS) (subclass 851) visa. The Minister also announced that the applications for the TPV and SHEV which are ‘in’ process with the department will be converted to applications for RoS visa.
This move will affect almost 19,000 holders of these visas and has been welcomed by humanitarian organisations. This policy change gives the much required certainty to the holders of these temporary protection visa holders. The Minister however has imposed a very important caveat that only those who arrived in Australia before the Operation Sovereign Borders commenced will be eligible for RoS visa. Operation Sovereign borders commenced on 18 September 2013.
The requirements of the RoS visa are less onerous. The application form only asks for some basic information about the applicants and some information about character and travel history. The form also includes the Australian Value Statement and some declarations. As of now, the RoS visa does not ask the applicant to make any protection claims. This may be so as the same have already been assessed at the time of granting the TPV or SHEV. It is not known if this is likely to change. However, there may be some complications for the applicants for the RoS visa if they have been convicted or charged with any criminal offences.
Once the RoS visa has been granted, the RoS holders may also be able to sponsor their family members who are overseas for Australian visas. This is a very welcome news for the holders of TPV/SHEV who have been separated from their families for years.
This may be the first step taken towards abolishing the temporary protection visas as the Government may be of the opinion that they are not proving be a good enough deterrent to prevent people from arriving in Australia illegally by boats.
While this step has been welcomed by many, the question now is about the fate of the refugees who arrived in Australia illegally by boats after 18 September 2013 and who are in various detention centres. The announcement made by the Minister also does not affect those who were transferred from Nauru or Papua New Guinea (PNG) to Australia for medical treatment, people seeking asylum who arrived by plane to Australia or people whose permanent protection visas or humanitarian visas have been refused or cancelled. These people still remain in uncertainty.
If you have any questions about any type of visas please feel free to contact Nevett Ford Lawyers at 03 9614 7111
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