On Sunday, 21 May 2017 the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection announced that unauthorized maritime arrivals (UMAs) must lodge their Temporary Protection visa (TPV) or Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV) application by 1 October 2017. Those who do not lodge an application by 1 October 2017 are expected to leave Australia and will be banned from applying for any type of temporary or permanent visa in Australia.
The Minister’s announcement will affect around 7,500 UMAs who are yet to lodge their application. Included in this cohort are upwards of 2,000 UMAs who are on waiting lists to receive legal assistance to lodge their application.
Received a reminder letter to apply?
- If you have received a reminder letter you must apply within the time frame specified in the letter. This means that your deadline might be earlier than 1 October 2017.
- If you do not apply within the specified time frame:
- You may be banned from applying for any type of temporary or permanent visa in Australia.
- You may lose access to Government services.
- Your Bridging visa may also be affected.
What do you need to do?
- You must ensure that you lodge a TPV or SHEV application by 1 October 2017.
- Once a valid application is lodged, your protection claims will be assessed and you will stay eligible to access Government services while your application is being processed.
- If you do not lodge a valid TPV or SHEV application by 1 October 2017 or your application has been refused by both the Department and at merits review, you are expected to make arrangements to return home.
- There is information available on the Department’s website in languages spoken by most UMAs to help you understand the application process. This includes written information, videos and guides on the TPV and SHEV application process.
- If you would like assistance from a registered migration agent to lodge a TPV or SHEV application please contact us.
Which Government services will be cut off by 1 October 2017?
If you do not lodge a SHEV or TPV application by 1 October 2017, you will cease to receive:
- Income support; and
- Rental assistance.
While making arrangements to return home you may continue to hold a temporary visa that gives you:
- Permission to work;
- Access to Medicare; and
- Access to education for school-aged children
Why have these changes been made?
The Minister has stated that the purpose of the October cut-off for lodgement of protection claims is to ensure that Australian taxpayers are not providing financial support to people who have no right to be in Australia. The Minister’s rationale for the deadline is said to be because asylum seekers have “failed or refused to take any action to present their case for protection” in the “more than 5 years” that they have been in Australia on “government funded support”.
What is missing from the Minister’s statement is an acknowledgement that many UMAs did not have work rights when they first arrived in Australia and were therefore wholly reliant on government and community support, despite wanting to support themselves. It was also only 2 years ago, not 5 years ago, that the government first began allowing UMAs in this cohort to lodge a visa application and in that 2 years, 23,000 UMAs (over 75%) have lodged a valid application.
See the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection’s Media Release here.
How can we help?
We can assist you to lodge a TPV or SHEV application before the 1 October 2017 deadline. If you are not sure whether the Minister’s announcement will affect you and you are an asylum seeker living in the community who has not yet lodged a TPV or SHEV application, please contact us today for assistance or more information.