14 March 2012

Rejected asylum seekers acquire Australia visa through appeal

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Figures released by Australian immigration authorities have revealed that almost 80% of asylum seekers appealing their Australian visa denials are having their decisions overturned by the courts.

Australian immigration

The overturn rate of refugee application has caused some concerns.

The figures show that just 55% of refugee claims were accepted in 2011 yet during the last quarter alone, 79.3% of claims were overturned on appeal and the appellants received an Australia visa.

The figures show that the vast majority of asylum seekers ultimately gained an Australian visa; almost 5,000 were granted visas in 2011, compared to just 500 refusals.

The disparity in the initial and eventual decisions has raised concerns within the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). UNHCR Regional Representative Ric Towle labelled the overturn rate as 'unusually high' and said the department was addressing the issue.

"If we had an overturn rate of that degree then we would need to take a very close look at the criteria...and the assessment process at both levels to see why there are these inconsistencies."

The number of refugees ultimately gaining an Australian visa means that the Australian immigration system is the most lenient in the world when it comes to processing asylum seekers.

The country's policies for discouraging asylum seekers and what to do with new arrivals has been the subject of intense debate between political parties in Australia over the past couple of months.

A spokesperson for the Australian immigration minister, Chris Bowen, said that decisions for asylum were made on a case by case basis and did not reflect any trends but opposition immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison has claimed the high overturn rate was proof of the government's determination to empty detention centres in the wake of the riots in 2011.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their application with the Australian High Commission

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