Protection visa (subclass 866)

Features

This visa allows you to:

  • live and work in Australia as a permanent resident.​

Requirements

You might be able to get this visa if you:

  • are in Australia and you engage Australia’s protection obligations
  • did not arrive in Australia as an illegal maritime arrival or unauthorised air arrival.

About this visa

To be granted a Protection visa (subclass 866) you will need to be found to engage Australia’s protection obligations because you either:

  • are a refugee as defined by the Refugees Convention
  • meet the Complementary Protection criteria in the Australian Migration Act 1958.

You might also be eligible for a Protection visa if you are the family member of a person found to engage Australia's protection obligations.

You and any eligible family members included in the application must be in Australia when you apply for this visa.

The Protection visa (subclass 866) is a permanent visa.

What this visa lets you do

This visa allows you to live and work in Australia as a permanent resident and have access to Medicare and Centrelink services.

Cost

The visa application charges are listed in Fees and charges.

You do not have to pay this charge if you are in immigration detention in Australia when you apply for a Protection visa.

Illegal Maritime Arrivals

People who arrived in Australia by boat without a valid visa are illegal maritime arrivals and are barred from applying for this visa unless the minister exercises personal powers to allow them to apply.

Visa applicants

This information tells you what you need to do to apply for a Protection visa (subclass 866).

Who could get this visa

You might be able to get a Protection visa (subclass 866) if all of the following apply:

  • you are claiming Australia’s protection
  • you meet one of the following criteria:
    • you are a refugee as defined by the Refugees Convention
    • you meet the Complementary Protection criteria in the Australian Migration Act 1958.
  • you are not barred from lodging a Protection visa application
  • the minister is satisfied that the grant of the visa is in the national interest.

Australia’s protection obligations

According to the Refugees Convention, refugees are people who are outside their home country and cannot return because they have a well-founded fear of persecution due to their:

  • race
  • religion
  • political opinion
  • nationality
  • membership of a particular social group.

Australia is obliged under the Refugees Convention to provide protection to refugees and to ensure they are not returned to any place where they are likely to face persecution for one of the five grounds under the Refugees Convention.

Protection can also be provided to people found not to be refugees under the Refugees Convention, but who cannot be returned to their home country because they engage Australia's complementary protection obligations.

People engage protection in Australia under complementary protection obligations if there is a real risk that if they return to their home country they will suffer any of the following types of significant harm:

  • arbitrary deprivation of life
  • the death penalty
  • torture
  • cruel or inhuman treatment or punishment
  • degrading treatment or punishment.

Australia's obligation not to return people who might be subject to such harm derives from international human rights treaties to which Australia is a party. These treaties are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).

Health requirements

You must undergo health examinations. This will protect your health and the health of the Australian community.

These examinations are conducted by Bupa Medical Visa Services.

You will be given a health identifier (HAP ID) and information about how to arrange your health examinations, after you have lodged your visa application. ​​

Character requirements

You must meet certain character requirements. You must be prepared to provide a police certificate from each country you have lived in for 12 months or more during the past 10 years after you turned 16 years of age. Do not arrange for police certificates until we ask you to.

Provide biometrics

You and any family members who come with you must let us take a digital photograph of your face and a scan of your fingerprints. Some people do not need to provide their fingerprints (see below).

You can apply for a waiver under limited circumstances.

If you do not let us collect this information:

  • your application for this visa will be invalid and cannot be approved
  • if you are granted a bridging visa when you apply, it will end 28 days after you are notified that your application is invalid.

More information about how we collect this information is available at photographs and fingerprints.

Children

If you are younger than 18 years of age, you will need a parent, guardian or other adult (such as a relative, friend or migration agent) to give their permission for us to take your photograph or your fingerprints.

Fingerprints will not be taken for people who are:

  • younger than 15 years of age
  • incapable
  • physically unable.

An incapable person is someone who is not able to understand why they need to provide their photograph or fingerprints. This includes people who have an intellectual disability.

Waivers

If it is impossible or very hard for you to get to an immigration office, you can ask for a waiver. If you are given a waiver, you will not have your photograph or fingerprints taken and your visa application will still be valid.

To apply for a waiver, you need to fill in a Waiver Request form (103KB PDF), and send it to us with your supporting documents. If possible, you should apply for a waiver when you lodge your application. If you have already lodged your application, you must apply for a waiver within the time the department gives you to get your photograph and fingerprints taken (this is usually 14 days). You cannot ask for a waiver after this time.

If you are not given a waiver, you must have your photograph and fingerprints taken for your visa application to be valid.

Including family in your application

You can include the following people in your visa application:

  • your partner (married or de facto)
  • your or your partner’s dependent children
  • other eligible dependent relatives.

These family members must meet the requirements for including family members in your application. The application must include documentary evidence of their relationship to you.

Only family members who are in Australia can be included in the application.

Help to prepare your application

You can prepare and lodge your visa application yourself. You can also get help from:

You cannot pay your family and friends. If you have paid anyone to assist you with your application, you need to declare them on your application form.

We also operate a national general enquiries telephone service.

Telephone: 131 881
Hours of operation: Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm. Recorded information is available outside these hours.

Free help

Free migration advice and help with applications might be available through the Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme (IAAAS) if you arrived lawfully by air, are in immigration detention, or in the community and are severely disadvantaged.

You are considered a 'disadvantaged person' if you are in financial hardship and disadvantaged due to one of the following:

  • non-English speaking background, youth or other cultural issues such as gender barriers
  • illiteracy in main language of country of origin
  • remote location (outside any Australian capital city, except areas with known registered migration agents)
  • physical or psychological disability, including from past torture or trauma
  • physical or psychological harm resulting from family violence.

Provision of services

There are Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme providers around Australia.

You can find a list of community Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme service providers at: Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme service providers 2011–2014.

If you are in detention, a provider is allocated to you. You do not need to accept this service.

This funded assistance stops when either you are granted the visa or both the department and the relevant review tribunal (usually the Refugee Review Tribunal) have found that you do not meet the criteria for the grant of this visa. It is not available to you if you are seeking judicial review or requesting ministerial intervention.

What do you mean by advice and assistance?

'Application Assistance', full or partial, means that an Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme provider tells you and helps you prepare your application at departmental or review levels. This includes interpreting and translating.

'Advice' might be given by Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme providers in person, by telephone, in groups or individually.

How to apply

This information explains what you need to do to apply for a Protection visa (subclass 866). You and anyone included in your application must be in Australia when you apply and the visa is granted.

Prepare your documents

You need to provide documents to support your application for this visa. It is in your interest to provide as much information as possible with your application.

Lodge your application by post or person

You can lodge your application for this visa in person at any of our offices.

use the following forms to apply:

You must provide all relevant documents and pay the visa application charge when you apply. You can pay by credit card, bank cheque or money order payable to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Payment by cash or personal cheque can delay processing. Do not send cash through the post.

You should telephone 131 881 during business hours to make an appointment at one of our offices to lodge your application and record your digital photograph and fingerprints. All offices are equipped to collect your digital photograph and fingerprints except for our offices in Parramatta, Dandenong and Thursday Island.

If you cannot apply in person:

  • someone else, such as your migration agent, can lodge your application for you

If you are in Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, or New South Wales, send your application to:

Onshore Protection New South Wales
Department of Immigration and Border Protection
GPO Box 9984
Sydney NSW 2001

If you are in Tasmania or Victoria, send your application to:

Onshore Protection Victoria
Department of Immigration and Border Protection
GPO Box 241
Melbourne VIC 3001

If you are in South Australia, the Northern Territory, or Western Australia, send your application to:

Onshore Protection Western Australia
Department of Immigration and Border Protection
Locked Bag 7
Northbridge WA 6865

More information

There is more information to help you prepare your application, which gives advice about certifying and translating documents into English, communicating with us, using a migration agent, authorising another person to receive information from us, and receiving assistance with your application.

After you have applied

After you apply for your Protection visa (subclass 866), we will send you an acknowledgement letter.

If you are experiencing financial hardship while you are waiting for a decision on your Protection visa application, you might be able to get limited financial assistance.

Wait for a decision

If you are not in immigration detention, you might be granted a bridging visa that allows you to stay lawfully in Australia while your Protection visa (subclass 866) application is being processed.

The type of bridging visa you are granted and whether you are allowed to work depends on a number of circumstances.

Provide more information

You can provide more information to us, at any time until a decision is made on the application. If you want to correct information you provided, use:

We could also ask you for more information. You will have to respond by a set date. After that date, we can make a decision about your application using the information that we have.

If another person gives us information that could result in you being refused a visa, we will usually give you the opportunity to comment on the information.

You might also be interviewed. If you are asked to attend an interview in person, bring your passport or other identification and any requested documents to the interview.

The interview

If you are interviewed, give all the information needed to make a decision about your visa application. We will provide you with an interpreter at the interview if you need one. Your friend, relative or migration agent can also attend the interview with you.

If you do not attend an interview that we have asked for, your Protection visa application can be decided on the information available to your decision-maker at the time.

Report changes in circumstances

Tell us if your circumstances change after you have applied for this visa. This includes a new residential address, a new passport, or a pregnancy, birth or death in your family.

You can use the following forms:

Withdrawing your application

You can withdraw the application at any time before we make a decision about it. To do this, send us a letter or email to ask for the withdrawal. Your request must include your full name and date of birth. If you know it, you should also include the number we gave you when you applied – this could be a file reference number or a client ID.

Applicants who are 18 years of age or older must sign the letter of withdrawal or send a separate email or letter.

Applying for assistance after you lodge your application

If you have lodged a vaild application for this visa you might be able to get financial or other assistance. Contact us for more information.

Financial help and casework services

Financial help and casework services are available to eligible applicants through the Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme.

If you are eligible you might get money to help with:

  • everyday living expenses
  • general health care
  • health and character checks
  • some of the costs associated with processing your application.

Any financial assistance you get will end:

  • when you are granted a Protection visa (subclass 866)
  • 28 days after we have told you that your application for this visa has been refused
  • if you no longer meet the eligibility criteria.

If your application is refused, you might be able to continue receiving assistance if you apply for review by the Refugee Review Tribunal and still meet the eligibility criteria.

Exemptions

You might not have to meet the Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme eligibility criteria if you are:

  • an unaccompanied minor
  • elderly
  • unable to work due to:
    • the effects of torture & trauma
    • a disability or illness (physical or mental)
  • a parent with a child under 18 years of age
  • a full time carer
  • subject to deteriorating personal circumstances since your arrival in Australia causing you financial hardship.

Access to Medicare

You can visit the Medicare website to find out about getting health benefits from the Australian Government.

To find out more, contact an office of the Red Cross or contact us.

Migration assistance

The Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme can provide you with free migration assistance. The scheme also provides advice on complex immigration matters.

Visa decision

If the visa is granted, we will let you know:

  • when you can use the visa
  • the visa grant number
  • any conditions attached to the visa.

You will not have a visa label placed in your passport.

The letter will also tell you information regarding your entitlements and settlement assistance to which you might be entitled, including the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP).

There is also more information about Living in Australia and the Life in Australia book.

If this visa is not approved, we will send you a letter stating:

  • why the visa was refused
  • your review rights with the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and how you can apply for a review
  • the time limit for lodging an application for review.

If your protection visa has been refused or cancelled, you can ask the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection to intervene in your case. The Minister does not have to consider your request and he only intervenes in a very small number of cases.

Document checklist

You need to provide documents to support your application for this visa. We can make a decision using the information you provide when you lodge your application. It is in your interest to provide as much information as possible with your application.

Provide certified copies of original documents. Do not include original documents unless we specifically ask for them. Police certificates should be original documents. Documents not in English must be accompanied by accredited English translations.

Use this checklist to make sure your application is complete.

Forms

Receiving assistance

  • If someone gives you advice or lodges your application for you, that person completes:
    • Form 956 Advice by a migration agent/exempt person of providing immigration assistance (135 kB PDF) (the agent or exempt person completes the form and you must sign it).
  • If you would like someone to receive correspondence from us on your behalf, that person completes:
    • Form 956a Appointment or withdrawal of an authorised recipient (120 kB PDF) (the recipient completes the form and you must sign it).

Your identity

  • Certified copies of the biographical pages of the current passports or travel documents of all people included in the application (these are the pages with the holder's photo and personal details and the issue/expiry dates).

    OR

    A statement explaining why you have no travel or identity documents.

Your claims for protection

  • Any documentary evidence that you have to support your claims for protection.

Visa holders

This information is for people who have already been granted a Protection visa (subclass 866). It explains your rights and obligations.

From 3 June 2013, condition 8559 prohibits travel by a protection visa holder to their home country, or the country from which they sought protection. Find out more about condition 8559 through Help and support - Frequently asked questions (FAQs).

You can use Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) for free to check your visa details and entitlements.

What this visa lets you do

This is a permanent residence visa. It lets you and any family members who have also been granted this visa to:

  • stay in Australia indefinitely
  • work and study in Australia
  • enrol in Medicare, Australia's scheme for health-related care and expenses
  • apply for Australian citizenship (if you are eligible)
  • sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence
  • travel to and from Australia for five years from the date the visa is granted (after that time, you will need a resident return visa or another visa to return to Australia).

If you want to sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence, you can do so under the family stream. In limited circumstances, you might be able to sponsor your eligible family member for this visa.

Your obligations

You and your family must comply with Australian laws.

Estimate the cost of your visa

* Price will be displayed in Australian dollars unless changed.
The Visa Pricing Estimator requires you to answer the questions as accurately as possible to provide you with an estimate for lodging a visa application. The estimator does not include the second instalment of the visa application charge which is payable for some visas. Please note this is an estimate for a visa application, if you have already lodged your application and you want to change/add applicants please refer to the Visa Pricing Table. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection Visa Pricing Estimator will give you an estimate of the charges you may need to pay to lodge a visa application. This is paid after you have made your application but before the visa can be granted. Read the department's full disclaimer. The Commonwealth of Australia does not guarantee the accuracy, currency or completeness of any material in the Visa Pricing Estimator.

Last reviewed

Tuesday 16 September 2014

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