Permanent protection visa

Asylum seekers granted a permanent Protection visa become permanent residents of Australia and have access to health, social security, education and employment services. People with Protection visas are able to apply for Australian citizenship and sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence (with some restrictions).

A person may be eligible for this visa if they:

  • are in Australia and engage Australia’s protection obligations,
  • did not arrive in Australia without a valid visa i.e. people characterised as “illegal maritime arrivals” or “unauthorised air arrival”

and meet other requirements, such as health and character checks.

Temporary and bridging visas

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 had until 1 October 2017 to apply for a Temporary Protection visa (TPV) or a Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV) under the fast track assessment process. They may also be granted a Bridging visa while they wait for a decision on their asylum application.

Bridging visas

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. For work rights, financial hardship will need to be demonstrated.

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. However, these services have recently seen a large cut in the SRSS assistance for people who were studying full time but were considered to be work ready.

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 Removal Pending Bridging 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 apart from the Adult English Migrant Program (AMEP).

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 to apply for another type of visa other than a TPV or a SHEV while remaining in Australia; this restriction also excludes access to permanent protection visas.

Safe Haven Enterprise Visa

The Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) is a form of temporary protection visa that lasts for five years. SHEV holders are allowed to work, study and have the same access and limits to support as TPV holders. Unlike TPV holders, however, if SHEV holders meet certain requirements, they are able to apply for other types of immigration visas, such as skilled or family visas (but not a permanent protection visa). In order to be eligible to apply for other types of visas, SHEV holders are required to work and/or study in regional Australia for 3.5 of the five years without receiving Special Benefit payments.

Updated 3 July 2018

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