Changes to Australian protection visa process for asylum-seekers

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Changes to the Australian visa application process for asylum seekers will combine two separate visa processes into one and come into effect 24 March 2012.

Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen stated that the new Protection Visa process would combine separate processes for boat and air arrivals into a single system for all asylum seekers.

"The current onshore arrangements for application and independent review through the Refugee Review Tribunal system will now apply to all people seeking asylum in Australia, regardless of their mode of arrival," Bowen said. "This means the protection obligations assessment process for irregular maritime arrivals will be consistent with that of onshore protection visa applicants."

Bowen noted that the new system would apply to asylum seekers who arrive in Australia from 24 March 2012 as well as those who had arrived earlier but had not yet had a primary assessment interview.

"Those who are currently having their asylum claims assessed in the non statutory process will continue in that process with access to existing Independent Merits Review arrangements," he said.

The immigration department will also begin processing complementary protection claims, for applicants under threats not covered by the Refugee Convention but still warranting protection.

"This will mean people facing certain types of harm – not covered by the Refugee Convention but still warranting protection – will be recognised sooner, making the process more efficient and less stressful for vulnerable people at risk of violation of their fundamental human rights," he said.

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