Offshore Refugee and Humanitarian Visas

Offshore Refugee and Humanitarian Visas

While leaving behind one’s life, home, family, friends, and homeland is undoubtedly a challenging decision for most of us, there are times when individuals may face circumstances necessitating departure from their country and homeland. These circumstances might include life-threatening situations, conflict, loss of livelihood, persecution, and other hardships. In such cases, being granted refugee status can provide a pathway to safeguarding personal safety and security. Australia is recognized as a reputable destination for refugees, and many individuals from around the world seek refuge there under specific conditions.

According to the laws, anyone seeking asylum in Australia must undergo a rigorous and lawful process to substantiate their claim before their refugee status is determined. This process begins with lodging a humanitarian visa application with the Australian authorities, known as the Refugee and Humanitarian (Subclass 200) visa, presenting the required documentation, and meeting the specified criteria. Eventually, it leads to obtaining permanent residency in Australia.

It’s essential to note that this migration pathway is suitable only for individuals facing various reasons, including fundamental discrimination, gross human rights violations, or threats to their lives, who are unable to remain in their home country. If you believe your rights have been violated or you’ve faced severe discrimination in any aspect of your life, you may likely find an opportunity to continue your life in Australia by applying for a humanitarian visa. Australia offers several visa subclasses under the humanitarian stream, including:

  • Refugee and Humanitarian (Subclass 200) Visa: Granted to refugees referred to Australia for resettlement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
  • Refugee and Humanitarian (Subclass 202) Visa: Specifically for individuals who have fled their country and are currently residing in another country, experiencing significant discrimination leading to gross human rights violations. This visa requires sponsorship or nomination from within Australia.
  • Refugee and Humanitarian (Subclass 201) Visa: Intended for those who cannot leave their home country for various reasons but are at risk of significant harm. This visa is also known as the in-country Special Humanitarian visa.
  • Refugee and Humanitarian (Subclass 203) Visa: Granted to asylum seekers facing immediate danger referred to Australia by the UNHCR. This visa is also known as the Emergency Rescue visa.
  • Refugee and Humanitarian (Subclass 204) Visa: Specifically for women who lack the support of a partner or family members and are at risk of being victims of violence.

Documents and Forms for offshore Refugee and Humanitarian Visa 

  1. Form 842: This form is required as part of the visa application process.
  2. Passport: A valid passport is essential for identification purposes.
  3. National ID Card: Providing a national identification card helps verify the applicant’s identity.
  4. Marriage or Divorce Certificate (if applicable): Applicants who are married or divorced may need to provide relevant certificates to support their marital status.
  5. Form 681 (if sponsored): If the applicant is being sponsored by someone in Australia, Form 681 must be included in the application.
  6. Two Recent Photos: Recent passport-sized photographs of the applicant are required for documentation purposes.
  7. Documents Demonstrating Insecurity of Living Situation: Any documents that demonstrate the insecurity of the applicant’s living situation should be included. This could include evidence of persecution, threats, or other forms of insecurity in their home country.

Persecution and Substantial Discrimination

Applicants for a Humanitarian or Refugee visa generally need to demonstrate that they are subjected to persecution or substantial discrimination in their home country, amounting to a gross violation of their human rights. An exception exists for some applications made under the ‘Split Family Provisions’, which is discussed further below.

According to the Department’s policy, persecution includes:

  • Threats to life, liberty, or security
  • Continued or periodic harassment, detention, or arrest
  • Forced exile or relocation to a remote area
  • Arbitrary arrest or detention
  • Slavery, torture, or cruel or inhuman treatment
  • Confiscation of property
  • Forced indoctrination or re-education

The policy further states that persecution involves repeated or persistent oppression, injury, maltreatment, or harassment. To support an application, the visa applicant should, where possible and relevant, provide:

  • Evidence of previous persecution
  • Evidence of having a high public profile
  • Evidence of having family members with political associations
  • Evidence of acts or opinions attributed to you by the authorities
  • Evidence showing others have also been persecuted or discriminated against for the same reasons

Substantial discrimination includes:

  • Arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence
  • Deprivation of all means of livelihood, being paid unreasonably low wages, or not being able to work at an appropriate job
  • Being forced to live in substandard dwellings
  • Exclusion from education
  • Forced relinquishment of social or civil activities
  • Constant surveillance or pressure to become an informer
  • Removal of citizenship rights
  • Denial of a passport

Processing time for offshore Refugee and Humanitarian Visa 

It’s important to note that the processing time for humanitarian visas typically ranges from 18 to 36 months. However, if the required forms are not properly completed or the documents are incomplete, this process may take longer.

In conclusion, seeking asylum in Australia is a time-consuming and challenging process. It’s crucial to emphasize that asylum should never be exploited as a migration tool unless faced with genuine circumstances such as fundamental discrimination, gross human rights violations, or threats to personal safety.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What if I don't have a proposer?

In the absence of a proposer, visa applicants are required to file Form 842, including all relevant attachments and evidence, at an Australian diplomatic, consular, or migration office situated outside of Australia.

How to apply for an Offshore Refugee or Humanitarian Visa?

To apply, the applicant needs to fill out Form 842 – Application for an Offshore Humanitarian Visa. Additionally, if applicable, the proposer must complete Form 681 – Refugee and Special Humanitarian Proposal. No fee is required for this application.

What is a bridging visa A?

It is a temporary visa that allows you to stay in Australia after your current substantive visa ceases and while your new substantive visa application is being processed.

Can I appeal the refusal decision for my Refugee and Humanitarian visa?

If your application is refused you cannot seek review of the decision at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. You should obtain legal advice before making a further application for this visa.

One of the questions on Form 842 I answered incorrectly. What should I do to correct it?

You can amend your answer using Form 1023 and send it to the Department of Home Affairs. 

One of my family members has migrated to another country. How do I inform the DOHA?

To notify the Department of Immigration Australia, you can complete Form 929 and enter the information regarding the family members who have migrated outside of the country.

After submitting my humanitarian visa application, I have become the parent of another child. How can I add my child to the visa application?

To include your new child in the humanitarian visa application, you can complete Form 1436 and send it along with the birth certificate to the Department of Immigration.

After submitting my application, I have not yet received any confirmation letter from the Department of Immigration Australia. Why?

It is possible that due to a high volume of applications or other circumstances, the Department of Home Affairs may not be able to send the acknowledgment letter to you promptly. Sometimes, this delay can last several months.

I do not have any proposer or sponsor. Can I apply for a humanitarian visa?

Yes, you can submit your application (Form 842 and relevant documents) to a diplomatic, consular, or migration office maintained by or on behalf of the Australian government. 

I have personally submitted my humanitarian visa application. Can you be my lawyer from here?

After submitting the application, you need to wait for the outcome, and there is no need to have a lawyer.