27 October 2011

Immigration department speeds up refugee Australia visa processing

The Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship has announced an effort to speed up Australia visa processing arrangements ahead of the move to community detention.

Australia Visa

Australian immigration and security intelligence agencies have increased cooperation to speed up refugee visa processing times.

Security assessments and visa processing for prospective holders of a refugee visa to Australia will be quickened under the Australian Government's new approach immigration detention through greater cooperation between the immigration and security agencies.

"We’ve significantly sped up, between ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) and my department, the processing of the vast majority of refugee claims and their security claims," Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen told ABC Radio National Breakfast today.

"That's been a factor in the last 12 months of us granting 3,900 visas to people who've arrived by boat; compared to the 2,600 that have arrived.

"So for the first time we are actually - in a long time - releasing more people from detention than are going into it".

This concerted effort to speed up humanitarian Australia visa processing times comes as Australia makes community detention a more central part of the immigration system. The Australian Government announced earlier this month that since the Malaysia refugee swap deal was rejected by the Federal Parliament, asylum applicants will now be housed in the community on bridging visas, allowing them to work and live un-detained while their refugee claims are assessed.

However, Mr Bowen also made clear that in some cases security and other concerns will lead to longer processing times.

"There will always be some (refugee claim cases) that are much more complex, much more difficult and will take more time," he said.

Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people lodge applications with the Australian High Commission.

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