24 February 2011

New Australia Visa process to protect refugee applicants

Australia Immigration Minister has announced legislation to eliminate unnecessary visa processes for people at risk of torture, inhumane treatment or likely death if they are returned to their home country.

Australian immigration

New legislation to eliminate lengthy Australia Visa processes for protection visa applicants has been announced.

Australia does not and will not return people who are at risk if they are returned home, and the legislation will cut red tape for protection visa processes for these people.

Chris Bowen said the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2011 allowed claims raising Australia's non refoulement (non-return) obligations under international human rights treaties to be considered through the same Australia Visa process as claims that raise obligations under the Refugee Convention.

“This is about helping vulnerable people – people at risk of the most serious forms of harm if returned to their home country,” Mr Bowen said.
“Our international treaty obligations mean we cannot and do not send these people home. But, under existing processes, they are only able to get a visa through the personal intervention of the minister.

“This is extremely inefficient, time-consuming and stressful, as applicants must apply, be rejected, seek review, be rejected again and then seek the personal – and entirely discretionary – intervention of the minister.

“While ministers have historically agreed to grant these visas, this is no way for the system to operate."

Mr Bowen said the Australian Government was committed to promoting efficient, transparent and accountable Australia Immigration decision making. This complementary protection legislation will allow for all claims by visa applicants to be considered in one efficient, transparent and reviewable process.

Mr Bowen said complementary protection would provide greater certainty and faster outcomes for vulnerable people at risk of violation of their fundamental human rights.

“A woman fleeing a so-called 'honour killing' may not be covered by the Refugee Convention, whereas she will be covered through the inclusion of complementary protection in Australian law,” he said.

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

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