VISAS AND LIVING IN AUSTRALIAN COMMUNITIES
People who arrive in Australia on or after 13 August 2012 without a valid visa are not eligible for a permanent Protection visa. Instead, they may apply for a Temporary Protection visa (TPV) or a Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV). They may also be granted a Bridging visa.
Bridging visas are temporary visas that allow for people to remain lawfully in Australia and live in the community while their claim for refugee status is being assessed or while they make arrangements to leave Australia.
Prior to changes made in December 2014, asylum seekers on Bridging visas who arrived after 13 August 2012 receive limited benefits and no work rights. With the passing of the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment Act 2014, there is the possibility of work rights for asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by boat and were subsequently released from detention into the community on a Bridging visa while their application is being processed. However, permission to work requires the Minister's personal intervention.
Asylum seekers on Bridging visas have limited access to state benefits, including medical support through Medicare, and the freedom to choose where they live (excluding public housing). Government schooling is accessible for children, while adults are required to pay for their own education.
Asylum seekers with Bridging visas may be eligible for support and financial assistance under the Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) program (bands 5 and 6), funded by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and delivered by a range of service providers.
The Bridging (Removal Pending) Visa
People who have been cooperating in their removal from Australia but whose removal is not reasonably practicable at the time may be released from immigration detention on a Bridging (Removal Pending) visa.
People holding this visa have access to some health and income benefits and are able to work, however they must make every effort to facilitate their departure from Australia.
Temporary Protection Visa
In December 2014, the Abbott government passed legislation to re-establish the Temporary Protection Visa (TPV). TPVs were first introduced in 1999, but abolished in August 2008.
A TPV can be granted if asylum seekers who arrive in Australia without a valid visa have been assessed as engaging Australia's protection obligations and meet other requirements including health, security and character checks. The TPV is valid for up to three years.
The TPV allows people to work and have access to Medicare, social security benefits (Centrelink), job matching and short-term counselling for torture or trauma. People under the age of 18 have access to education, adults do not have supported access to education.
Individuals with a TPV are unable to sponsor family members for a visa through the Australian Humanitarian or Family Migration Programs. They are also not eligible for another visa other than a TPV or a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa while remaining in Australia; this includes access to permanent protection visas.
Safe Haven Enterprise Visa
The Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) will be a form of temporary protection visa that last for five years. SHEV visa holders will be required to work or study in regional areas of Australia. The SHEV was introduced as part of legislative change in December 2014 and is not yet available.
According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, a person granted a TPV will have the opportunity to apply for a SHEV once they become available.
Updated 2 August 2015
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