This section contains information about:
- processing claims for protection
- current laws and regulations about protection visa applications
- review processes.
Processing 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.
Temporary Protection visas
On 5 December 2014, the Australian Parliament passed legislation to introduce Temporary Protection visas (TPVs). You can be granted this visa if you arrived in Australia illegally, are assessed as engaging Australia's protection obligations and meet all requirements.
Information about Temporary Protection visas is available. Specific information on Temporary Protection visas for unaccompanied minors is also available.
Safe Haven Enterprise visas
On 5 December 2014, the Australian Parliament passed legislation to introduce Safe Haven Enterprise visas (SHEVs).
SHEVs are a type of temporary protection visa that will create an incentive for illegal arrivals who engage Australia's protection obligations to settle in a regional community and find work or study, and also contribute to the economic and social development of regional Australia.
The Australian Federal Government is currently working with the governments of Australia's states and territories to make SHEVs available to people who arrived illegally.
The NSW Government has indicated its interest in 'opting in' to the SHEV programme from 1 July 2015.
For the time being, people are not able to lodge an application for a SHEV.
When SHEVs become available, we will start inviting people to apply for either a TPV or a SHEV. We will generally invite people to apply in the order they arrived, from first to last, although priority is being given to those in immigration detention.
You will be eligible to be granted a SHEV if:
- you arrived in Australia illegally
- you are invited to apply for a SHEV and lodge a valid application
- at least one member of your family unit declares an intention to work and/or study in regional Australia
- you are assessed as engaging Australia's protection obligations, and
- you meet other requirements, such as health, security and character checks.
For more information on what it means to engage Australia's protection obligations, read the Protection Application Information and Guides (PAIG).
If you are found not to engage Australia's protection obligations, you will be expected to return home or to another country where you have right to enter and reside.
What will a SHEV allow me to do?
A SHEV will allow you to stay in Australia for five years.
A SHEV will allow you to work and have access to Medicare, social security benefits (Centrelink), job matching and short-term counselling for torture or trauma where required. Adult SHEV holders will have access to the Adult Migrant English Programme and children will be able to go to school.
Conditions on a SHEV
As a SHEV holder, you can ask for approval to travel outside Australia and then re-enter Australia on your SHEV. International travel will only be approved if you can demonstrate compassionate or compelling circumstances that justify the travel. You must not, under any circumstances, travel to the country from which you, or the primary applicant on your SHEV application, were found to engage Australia's protection obligations.
If you depart Australia without written approval, your SHEV could be cancelled.
If you are granted a SHEV, you cannot sponsor family members for a visa through the Australian Humanitarian or Family Migration Programmes.
You must tell us if you change your residential address, within 28 days of moving.
You will not be eligible to apply for another visa, other than a Temporary Protection visa (TPV) or another SHEV, while you remain in Australia, unless you meet the SHEV pathway requirements.
The SHEV pathway requirements
One benefit of the SHEV is that you might be eligible to apply for other substantive visas later on (but not a permanent Protection visa) if we assess that you meet the SHEV pathway requirements. You will meet these requirements if, for at least three and a half years while on a SHEV, you have been:
- employed in regional Australia and not receiving certain social security benefits
- enrolled in full-time study in regional Australia, or
- a combination of the above.
Only one visa holder in your family unit needs to meet these requirements for all of the members of your family unit who were included on your SHEV application to meet the SHEV pathway requirements.
As soon as you think you meet these requirements, you can provide evidence of this to us. If we assess that you have met the SHEV pathway requirements, you will no longer be barred from applying for a range of onshore visas.
You can apply for another type of visa as soon as we advise you that you meet the SHEV pathway requirements. You do not have to wait for your SHEV to expire.
If you apply for another type of visa and your SHEV expires before a decision is made on that visa application, you will be granted a bridging visa while your application is being processed.
If you apply for another type of visa after you meet the SHEV pathway requirements, you will not need to be found to engage Australia’s protection obligation as part of that visa application. You will, however, need to meet all of the criteria for that visa.
Keep in mind that different visas have different definitions of who is a member of a family unit. You should check the definition for the onshore visa you want to apply for.
If you have not met the SHEV pathway requirements before your SHEV expires, you can apply for another SHEV or a TPV, but you will not be eligible to apply for another type of onshore visa.
Although a SHEV lasts for five years, if you have already made a valid application for another SHEV or a TPV by that expiry date, your current SHEV will remain in effect until your new application is decided or withdrawn.
If you are granted another SHEV, your periods of employment and/or study over the course of both SHEVs will count towards meeting the SHEV pathway requirements.
To be granted another SHEV or a TPV, you will need to meet the criteria for the visa, including being found to engage Australia’s protection obligations.
Whether you meet the SHEV pathway requirements or not, you should apply for another visa before your SHEV expires. If you do not, you will become unlawful in Australia and risk being taken into immigration detention.
The Australian Federal Government is currently working with Australia’s state and territory governments to identify regional areas where SHEV holders could live and work in order to meet the SHEV pathway requirements.
If you are unable to get, or maintain, employment or study in a regional area, this will not affect your ability to hold a SHEV. You will still be eligible to apply for another SHEV or a TPV before your current SHEV expires. However, you will not meet the SHEV pathway requirements.
You do not have to live in a regional area to be eligible for a SHEV or to continue holding a SHEV.
Further information about areas designated as ‘regional Australia’ for the purposes of the SHEV programme will be published on this website as it becomes available.
To meet the SHEV pathway requirements, work must be:
- in a regional area that is included in the SHEV programme, and
- full-time, part-time, temporary, casual, seasonal or a combination of these.
The work does not have to be continuous. If you have breaks between periods of work (such as doing seasonal work), each calendar month that you work will count towards the SHEV pathway requirements. It is your responsibility as a SHEV holder to find employment in a regional area that is part of the SHEV programme if you want to meet the SHEV pathway requirements.
To meet the SHEV pathway requirements, study must be:
- physically attending a course of study accredited by the Australian Qualifications Framework, including a maximum of one course leading to a Certificate I and any courses leading to a Certificate II or above; and
- full time, either
- at the campus of an education provider located in a regional area included in the SHEV programme, or
- attending primary, high school or college in regional Australia for a minimum of 161 weeks (consistent with 3.5 standard academic years) of full-time registered study.
Social security benefits
While holding a SHEV, it is open to you to access any social security benefits that you are eligible for.
However, to meet the SHEV pathway work requirements, you need to work for 42 months without accessing social security, Special Benefit payments (including any Special Benefits ancillary payments).
The benefits that you can receive for the full duration of your SHEV and still meet the SHEV pathway requirements are:
- Family Tax Benefit A and B
- Single Income Family Supplement
- Double Orphan Pension
- Parental Leave Pay (work test requirements)
- Dad and Partner Pay (work test requirements)
- Health Care Card (Family Tax Benefit)
- Child Care Benefit/Child Care Rebate
- School Kids Bonus
- Child Dental Benefits Schedule
- Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance
- Stillborn Baby Payment
- Low Income Health Care Card.
How do I apply for a SHEV?
For the time being, people are not able to lodge an application for a SHEV.
When SHEVs become available:
- people who have already applied for a TPV will have the option of withdrawing their TPV application and applying for a SHEV instead, provided the Minister lifts the application bar to allow them to apply.
- people who have been granted a TPV will have the option of applying for a SHEV, provided the Minister lifts the application bar to allow them to apply.
- people who have not yet applied for a protection visa will be invited to apply for either a TPV or a SHEV when it is their turn to apply. Keep checking the webpage 'When will my claims for asylum be considered' for information about who is currently being invited to apply.
More information about how to apply for a SHEV will be published on this website when SHEVs are available to apply for.
Can I still apply for a permanent Protection visa?
No. The Government is committed to not granting permanent Protection visas to people who arrived illegally. If you arrived in Australia illegally, you can only apply for a TPV or a SHEV when it is your turn to apply.
Any valid application for a permanent Protection visa lodged by a person who arrived in Australia illegally that was not finalised by 16 December 2014 has been converted into a TPV application.
What review rights do I have if my visa application is refused?
That depends on when you arrived and the process your claims are assessed under. You will be told about your review right when a decision is made on your application.
Travel condition 8570
If you were granted a Temporary Protection visa (TPV) on or after 16 December 2014, your visa will have condition 8570 attached. This condition was introduced so TPV holders can travel outside of Australia if there are compassionate or compelling circumstances that justify the travel and we approve it in writing. However, you cannot travel to the country from which you, or the primary applicant on your TPV application, were granted protection. If you do travel to that country, your visa could be cancelled.
If you were granted a TPV before 16 December 2014, you cannot have approval to travel overseas. Your TPV is a different class of visa (Class XA-785 or Class XC-785) and you are not permitted to re-enter Australia if you leave the country. If you leave Australia, your Class XA-785 or Class XC-785 TPV will cease. If you hold this type of visa and wish to travel, you will need to apply for and be granted a different TPV (Class XD).
You will not get approval to travel if your TPV application is currently being assessed. Any request for approval to travel can only be considered if you have been granted a TPV. If you are on a bridging visa and do leave Australia before you are granted a TPV, your bridging visa will cease and you will not be allowed to re-enter Australia.
You will not be allowed to travel to your home country after being granted a TPV. To be granted a TPV you claimed that you cannot return to the country from which you were found to be engage Australia's protection obligations. As such, you will not be given approval to travel to the country from which you (or, if you were not the primary applicant, the primary applicant on your TPV application) were found to engage Australia’s protection obligations. If you do travel to that country, your visa will be cancelled.
Travel to any country except your own country
You can ask for approval to travel to any country except the country from which you, or the primary applicant on your TPV application, were found to engage Australia's protection obligations. It is your responsibility to get any visa or other permission you might need to enter the country you wish to visit and to check that your Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) travel document allows you to enter that country.
You should fill out and submit a Form 1454 - Request for approval to travel under condition 8570 (Restricted Travel).
When making a request, you should tell us and, where possible, provide evidence of:
- which countries you wish to enter, including all countries that you plan to visit or transit through
- why you want to travel to those countries
- the reasons for entering each country
- the intended length of travel in each country, including transit countries
- your contact details while you are outside of Australia
- who you wish to visit, including their name, contact details and your relationship to them
- your claim of compassionate or compelling circumstances justifying your need to enter the country
- your travel arrangements (if already made)
- your travel documents (if available).
Email your completed Form 1454 and all accompanying documents presented as evidence to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can visit one of our offices to apply in person.
If you need to travel urgently, follow the usual process for requesting approval to travel. When you submit the request, tell us that it is urgent, why it is urgent and the timeframe in which you wish to travel.
We will give you a letter telling you the outcome of your request for approval to travel. We will give you this in person, by email or by post, depending on which method you nominate.
There are limited reasons for travelling outside of Australia that could be considered compassionate or compelling (for example, to visit close relatives). We will assess the reasons you give for this travel and decide whether or not to give you approval to do so.
If my request for approval to travel is denied, is that decision final?
Yes. Once we have made a decision, it is a final decision for that travel request. That is why it is important to provide as much evidence as you can when you ask for approval to travel.
What if I am given approval to travel, then need to change my travel plans while I am outside of Australia?
You need to ask for approval to travel to each country. If you need to change your travel plans, contact us with the compassionate or compelling reasons why you need to enter a particular country and ask for written approval to do so before travelling to that country. You must not travel to the country from which you, or the primary applicant on your TPV application, were found to engage Australia's protection obligations, under any circumstances.
You should not travel to any country until you have received written approval to do so. If you do travel to such a country, your visa could be cancelled.
If I get approval, can I travel multiple times?
No. If we give you approval to travel outside of Australia, this will be valid for one trip only. If you want to travel again after you have returned to Australia because of compassionate or compelling circumstances, you will need to ask for and get approval to travel again. If you travel a second time without getting written approval from us, your visa could be cancelled.
Does my approval to travel under condition 8570 include approval to travel to a declared area?
No. As a result of new counter-terrorism laws, the Minister for Foreign Affairs can declare an area in a foreign country if they are satisfied that a listed terrorist organisation is engaging in hostile activity in that area. You will commit a criminal offence if you intentionally enter, or stay in, an area in a foreign country that you know, or should know, is a declared area under the Criminal Code Act 1995. The declared area offence is separate to condition 8570 and it is not managed by us. You should seek independent legal advice if you are travelling to a declared area.
For more information, you can consult the Australian National Security website.
Travel outside of Australia without approval
If you travel outside of Australia without written approval from us, you will breach condition 8570. You will also breach this condition if you travel to the country from which you, or the primary applicant on your TPV application, were found to engage Australia's protection obligations, for any reason.
Breaching this condition could lead to your visa, and the visas of your family members, being considered for cancellation. If your visa is cancelled while you are outside Australia, you will not be able to return to Australia.
As soon as possible after you return to Australia, you should give us evidence that you have complied with condition 8570. You can do this by sending a copy of your boarding passes and any other evidence (such as entry and exit stamps) to email@example.com. We will consider this information when deciding any future travel requests you make.
You should get a travel document from the Passports Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You will need to tell us your travel document details so they can be updated on our system. If you do not do this, you might not be able to board the aeroplane.
Your travel document should be valid for at least as long as your proposed length of travel. If your travel document expires while you are outside of Australia, you might not be able to renew it and would therefore be unable to return to Australia.
You cannot use your own country passport from which you claimed Australia's protection. We do not recommend that you travel on the passport from your home country because this could mean that you no longer are in need of protection from your home country. In this case, you might have your TPV cancelled.
You must make sure your visa is valid for the entire time you are outside Australia. It is your responsibility to ensure that your TPV is valid for at least the duration of your travel. Without a visa, you cannot return to Australia. If your TPV expires while you are outside Australia, you will not be able to apply for another TPV or a SHEV.
The Fast Track Assessment process
On 5 December 2014, Parliament passed legislation to create a Fast Track Assessment process for protection visa applications. These laws come into effect on 19 April 2015.
From this date, your protection visa application will be assessed under the Fast Track Assessment process if:
- you arrived on or after 13 August 2012 and before 1 January 2014
- you have not been taken to a regional processing country
- the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has allowed you to make a valid protection visa application, and
- you lodge a valid protection visa application on or after 19 April 2015.
The Minister could also determine that other groups of people will be processed under the Fast Track Assessment process. We will tell if you are a fast track applicant. The Fast Track Assessment process will allow protection claims to be assessed efficiently by introducing a new review pathway. It also has shorter timeframes for applicants to respond to requests for further information or to respond to adverse information.
The Fast Track Assessment process uses a new review body called the Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA). If you are refused a protection visa, you will not be able to apply for review by the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT). Instead, we will automatically refer your case to the IAA for a review. However, you will not be eligible for IAA review if you are assessed to be an 'excluded fast track review applicant'.
Under the Fast Track Assessment process, it is extremely important to give us your protection claims early and in full. If you do not give us all of your protection claims and we refuse your application, you might not have another chance to provide these claims.
If we have questions or concerns about the claims you have made or the information you have given, we will give you an opportunity to respond to our questions or concerns. This will be either during your interview or in writing. However, you will be given limited time to give us any new information before we make a decision on your application. It is important that you respond and provide any new information within the timeframes we give you.
It could be some time before you are invited to apply for a protection visa, given the large number of people who need to be assessed under the Fast Track Assessment process. When it is your turn and the Minister has allowed you to make a valid protection visa application, we will invite you to apply.
Stay in contact with us and make sure we have your current contact information so we can send you this invitation. It is also very important that you attend any appointments we arrange with you and respond to any questions we ask you.
To update your contact details, call 1300 728 662 with your name, date of birth, boat identification number, home address and contact phone number.
Tell us if your circumstances change. This includes a new residential address or phone number, a pregnancy, change of relationship, birth or death in your family, significant changes in your health or financial situation or criminal charges.
What will the Fast Track Assessment process involve?
When you are invited to apply for a protection visa, you can apply for a Temporary Protection visa or for a Safe Haven Enterprise visa (when available). You will need to fill out the relevant application form in English, or get a translator to help you if you cannot write in English. In this form, you should include all of your protection claims as fully as possible. You must be truthful and provide evidence to support your claims where this is possible.
You must provide genuine documents as evidence of your identity, nationality and citizenship. You will be asked to provide translated, certified copies of these documents with your application form. If you cannot give us these documents, you must have a reasonable explanation for not providing them.
Documents in a language other than English should be accompanied by an English translation completed by a translator who is accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI).
You will be asked to attend an interview with an immigration officer. That officer will ask you for more information about yourself and your claims. When answering these questions, you must speak truthfully and provide all the information you have about your protection claims.
If you are found to engage Australia's protection obligations and meet all other criteria, such as health, security, character and identity requirements, you will be granted a temporary visa to stay in Australia.
To help you apply for protection, we have developed the Protection Application Information and Guides (PAIG). These documents include more information on how to apply for a visa, your visa options and the assessment process.
Under the Fast Track Assessment process, you will not have access to the RRT. If you are found not to engage Australia's protection obligations, you could get a limited form of review by the IAA. You will not be eligible for this review if you are assessed to be an excluded fast track review applicant.
The IAA will only consider information that was available to us when we made the decision to refuse your visa. This includes the information you gave to us in your protection visa application. In most cases, you will not be able to give new information to the IAA. This will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances.
You do not need to apply for IAA review. If you are eligible, we will automatically refer your case to the IAA. We will tell you if we do this.
Excluded fast track review applicants
If we find that you do not engage Australia's protection obligations, we will then assess whether you are eligible to have this decision reviewed. You will not be eligible for a review if you:
- have access to a safe third country that you can seek protection from, or are a national of two or more countries
- have previously entered Australia and, while in Australia, made an application for a protection visa which was either refused or withdrawn
- have been refused protection in another country, including with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- have made manifestly unfounded claims for protection (that is, your claims have no substance)
- have given us a bogus document as part of your protection visa application and do not have a reasonable explanation for doing so.
If you fit one of these criteria, you will be an excluded fast track review applicant. We will tell you if we assess that you fit one of these criteria. You will be able to comment and give us more information before we reach a decision.
If we decide that you are an excluded fast track review applicant, you cannot seek merits review of our decision to refuse your visa. You will be expected to make arrangements to leave Australia.
To help you apply for protection, we have developed the Protection Application Information and Guides (PAIG).
People who have entered Australia illegally and have been determined to be most vulnerable may have access to application assistance through the Primary Application Information Services (PAIS). We will tell you if you can get this service.
You can seek the assistance of a registered migration agent at any time. You will have to pay for this yourself.
Why has the new Fast Track Assessment process been introduced?
There are many asylum seekers who arrived in Australia illegally and are waiting to have their claims assessed. This new system means we can make sure our protection visa application process for these asylum seekers is more efficient and effective.
Can I choose to have my claims for protection assessed under a different process?
No. All IMAs in Australia who arrived on or after 13 August 2012 and before 1 January 2014, who lodge a valid protection visa application on or after 19 April 2015, will have their claims assessed under the Fast Track Assessment process.
Will IMAs at Nauru or Manus Island be processed under the Fast Track Assessment process?
No. IMAs who have been transferred to Nauru or Papua New Guinea will have their asylum claims assessed under the laws of those countries. They will not be resettled in Australia.
If you are found not to engage Australia's protection obligations, you will be expected to return home or to another country where you have right of entry.
You can choose to return home or to another country where you have right of entry at any time. You may be eligible for assistance to return home. For information about your options to return home, visit the IOM Thinking of home website.
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.