Illegal maritime arrivals

Australia does not provide permanent protection to people who arrive illegally by boat or plane. People who arrived illegally by boat are referred to as illegal maritime arrivals (IMAs).

IMAs have the option to return home voluntarily at any time. For more information, watch the Return home voluntarily video and visit Voluntary Returns.

Information for people who arrived illegally and have questions about the processing of their protection claims

Information about the processing of protection claims by illegal arrivals is available in the When will my claims for asylum be considered? page.

National interest consideration of permanent protection visa applications

The minister will personally consider permanent protection visa applications made by illegal arrivals who engage Australia's protection obligations to decide whether it is in the national interest to grant them a permanent protection visa.

Information about national interest consideration of permanent protection visas for illegal arrivals is available.

Reassessment of cases affected by the SZQRB Full Federal Court judgment

The SZQRB Full Federal Court judgment found some International Treaty Obligations Assessments (ITOAs) did not apply the correct test to determine whether Australia's non-refoulement (non-return) obligations under complementary protection were met in some protection assessments.  The Full Federal Court also found that procedural fairness requirements regarding adverse country information  were not met.

Information about the reassessment of SZQRB-affected cases is available.

Website privacy breach

In February 2014, a routine report was released on our website that unintentionally allowed access to personal information about people who were in immigration detention on 31 January 2014.  This information was accessible online for a short period of time before it was removed from our website.

Information about the website privacy breach is available, including translated fact sheets.

Bridging visas for illegal maritime arrivals

A Bridging visa is a temporary visa that lets holders remain in the community while their immigration status remains unresolved. Only the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection (the minister) has the power to grant Bridging visa Es (BVEs) to illegal maritime arrivals.

Illegal maritime arrivals living in the Australian community on a BVE cannot apply for a further Bridging visa. If the minister is considering granting a further BVE to an illegal maritime arrival, the department will contact them. For this reason it is very important to inform us of changes to contact details.

For more information, see our fact sheet 65 - Bridging visas for illegal maritime arrivals.

Code of behaviour

A code of behaviour applies to all adult illegal maritime arrivals who are considered for the grant of ​a Bridging visa E (BVE) by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.

The code of behaviour must be signed and witnessed. You will need to sign Form 1443 Code of Behaviour for Subclass 050 Bridging (General) (316KB PDF)

For assistance with this form email​ or talk to your service provider.

Form 1444i – Code of Behaviour for Subclass 050 Bridging (General) visa holders Supporting Information:

Safe Haven Enterprise visas

On 25 September 2014, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection announced a proposed new temporary protection visa, the Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV). It is anticipated that the SHEV will come into effect in April 2015 following necessary amendments to the Migration Regulations 1994.

The SHEV will encourage IMAs to settle in a regional community and find work or study, while addressing the need to develop the economic and social structure of regional Australia. Refugees who choose a SHEV will be able to live in any designated regional area.

The minister's announcement provided the following information about the proposed SHEV and how it will differ from a Temporary Protection visa (TPV):

  • Both TPVs and SHEVs will be protection visas that can be applied for onshore.
  • TPVs will be valid for up to three years and SHEVs valid for five years.
  • SHEV holders will need to commit to work and/or study in regional Australia.
  • SHEV holders who work and/or study in regional Australia for at least three and a half years of their visa and access income support for not more than 18 months in that time will then be able to apply for onshore substantive visas. This includes permanent visas (but not Permanent Protection visas) provided that they meet the application criteria for those visas.
  • If a SHEV holder was to access government assistance to study for a degree, diploma or trade certificate in a designated regional area, this would not be classified as accessing social security benefits for the purposes of calculating the period required before the holder becomes eligible to apply for other onshore visas.
  • Like TPVs, SHEV holders will not have access to family reunion or a right to re-enter Australia. However, they are free to leave Australia
  • The same conditions that apply to TPV holders will apply to SHEV holders. Both TPV and SHEV holders will have:
    • work rights
    • access to Medicare and related benefits
    • access to Early Health Assessment and Intervention Services (including counselling for torture and trauma)
    • access to Special Benefits, rent assistance, family allowance, maternity allowance and family tax benefits
    • access to education for children of school age
    • no access to settlement services, except where the relevant minister grants access as required.

More information on the new SHEV will be available on this website in due course.

Disallowance of regulation 866.222

On 14 December 2013, the Australian Government introduced a new regulation relating to protection visas that prevents anyone who came to Australia unlawfully from being granted a permanent protection visa. This regulation was disallowed on 27 March 2014.

Refusals that were made under this regulation remain valid as the regulation was valid at the time of decision. The government remains committed to only granting temporary protection to illegal arrivals by boat or by plane.

Information for service providers regarding the regulation 866.222 disallowance is available.

Last reviewed

Monday 17 November 2014


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