Update: 25 January 2022
On 21 January 2022, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) published an update to the Afghan Australian community. We have summarised some of the key points below:
The Australian Government will provide 15,000 places for Afghan nationals through the Humanitarian and Family Visa programs over four years. This allocation includes 10,000 places for Afghan nationals within Australia’s existing Humanitarian Program and at least 5,000 visas within the Family stream of the Migration Program.
Afghan evacuees in Australia who hold a subclass 449 visa
Afghan evacuees in Australia on a subclass 449 visa will be provided with a pathway to permanent residency, and DHA will be in touch with 449 visa holders with the next steps in the visa application process.
It is important that DHA is kept up to date on your contact details. Refugee Legal has prepared information sheets for 449 visa holders with important information on the process, which can be found here: https://refugeelegal.org.au/get-help/afghanistan-resources/
Humanitarian visa processing
Minister for Immigration, Hon Alex Hawke MP confirmed that the Department of Home Affairs has received more than 32,500 applications for the Humanitarian program from Afghan nationals on behalf of more than 145,000 individuals.
To ensure the Department responds to those most in need, processing priority will be given to:
- former Locally Engaged Employees (LEE) and their immediate family members
- subclass 449 holders (current and former) and their immediate family members
- those with enduring links to Australia, such as Afghans who were employed by Australian non-government organisations or worked on Australian Government funded projects, and Coalition partner LEE and their immediate family who come to Australia’s attention
- vulnerable women and children
- persecuted ethnic minorities
- split families
- LGBTQI+, and
- those with proposers residing in regional Australia.
Given the large volume of visa applications received, DHA has acknowledged that it is taking longer to respond to the applications.
- A message from the Department of Home Affairs to the Afghan Australian community - 21 January 2022: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-and-support/afghanistan-update/message-to-the-afghan-australian-community
- Commitment to Afghanistan Increased –The Hon Alex Hawke MP, press release: https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/AlexHawke/Pages/commitment-to-afghanistan-increased.aspx
Update: 15 September 2021
The Australian government has now ceased its evacuation operations at Hamid Karazi International Airport in Kabul. For those Afghanistan nationals in Afghanistan and in neighboring countries, there are limited visa options available under the Humanitarian and Migration programs.
The Australian government has announced that an initial 3,000 humanitarian places will be allocated to Afghan nationals under the annual Humanitarian program with priority given to persecuted minorities, women and children and those who have links to Australia.
Offshore Humanitarian visas
People still in Afghanistan, or who have fled to neighboring countries, can apply for a Class XB (Humanitarian) visa, which includes the following visa subclasses:
- Refugee (subclass 200) visa
- In-Country Special Humanitarian (subclass 201) visa
- Global Special Humanitarian (subclass 202) visa
- Emergency Rescue (subclass 203) visa
- Woman at Risk (subclass 204) visa
When an application for a Class XB visa is made, the applicant will be considered against all of the above subclasses. No fees apply for Class XB visas, the only exception being an Applicant proposed by an Approved Proposing Organisation (APO) under the Community Support Program (CSP) for a subclass 202 visa (discussed further below).
For more information about these visas, you can visit the Department of Home Affairs website here.
If you are in Afghanistan, or you are an Afghan national, and need to enquire about a visa or citizenship application, you can contact Department of Home Affairs on +61 2 6196 0196.
Sponsoring family members under the offshore humanitarian program
Australian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor family members under the Class XB visa - split family stream. TPV and SHEV holders are not eligible to propose relatives through the Humanitarian Program.
Given the strict eligibility criteria, we recommend that you speak to an immigration lawyer or Registered Migration Agent to assess eligibility. AMES Australia presently can only assist with applications lodged under the Community Support Program (see below). For migration assistance with any other offshore humanitarian program, we recommend contacting the following organisations that provide free legal assistance:
- Refugee Legal (VIC): Call 03 9413 0166 between 9.00-5.00pm Mon-Fri
- RACS (NSW): Telephone advice: Monday – Friday 10am – 1pm or 2pm – 4pm on 02 8355 7227 or email email@example.com with your name and phone number and they will call you back
- IARC (NSW) Call (02) 8234 0700
- RAILS (QLD): Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call on (07) 3846 9300
- Green Circle (WA) call (08) 6148 3636
- TRLS (TAS) Phone (03) 61699473 email email@example.com
Community Support Program
AMES Australia is an Approved Proposing Organisation (APO) in the Department of Home Affairs’ Community Support Program (CSP). The CSP is a private sponsorship program for people in humanitarian situations overseas.
Under the CSP, Australian Supporters (through APOs) are required to demonstrate they are able to provide adequate support to enable new arrivals to achieve financial self-sufficiency within their first year in Australia.
Please visit the following link for further information on the process and the costs associated: https://www.ames.net.au/csp/victoria
If you would like to assess your eligibility to sponsor family members under this program, you can contact AMES on 132637 and speak to one of our team members who will assess your eligibility and provide further information about the CSP. Please note that we are receiving a high volume of enquiries at the moment and we will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.
It has come to our attention that visa scammers (dishonest individuals) are targeting Afghan Australians in Australia. As we have specified above, there are no visa application charges for Offshore Humanitarian visas.
Only applications lodged through the CSP will incur costs.
If you wish to engage a Registered Migration Agent, please visit the following link which provides both commercial and noncommercial agents that are registered with Migration Agents Registration Authority: https://portal.mara.gov.au/search-the-register-of-migration-agents/
Sponsoring family members outside Australia under the Migration Program
There are a range of visas options available under the Migration program that can be considered for family outside Australia. These include visas such as Partner, Child, and Parent and there could potentially be other visa pathways depending on the individual circumstances of family members.
Please note however that these applications have high visa application charges and could take a long time to be processed.
If you have any questions about potential pathways under the Migration Program, you can speak to a Registered Migration Agent at AMES Australia on 1300 98 7071.
We recently conducted an information session with Clothier Anderson Immigration lawyers, about offshore humanitarian visa options. You can find the recording of the information session here.
This content is only for general information purposes and does not constitute legal advice.