New Single Protection Visa Process Set to Commence
Monday, 19 March 2012
The new single protection visa process announced last year for both boat and air arrivals will apply from 24 March, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, said today.
Mr Bowen announced in November last year that the government would be changing the two parallel processes for boat and air arrivals to a single system for all asylum seekers.
'The current onshore arrangements for application and independent review through the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) system will now apply to all people seeking asylum in Australia, regardless of their mode of arrival, from 24 March 2012,' Mr Bowen said.
'Under the new framework, people who arrive by boat from that date will have their claims heard under a statutory process with merits review by the RRT on appeal, instead of the previous Independent Merits Review (IMR) system.
'This means the protection obligations assessment process for irregular maritime arrivals will be consistent with that of onshore protection visa applicants.'
Mr Bowen said with the legislative impasse over offshore processing and the resulting move towards greater community placement, there was no longer any benefit to parallel processing arrangements for offshore entry persons.
'The Malaysia Arrangement presented a genuinely innovative regional response to the people smuggling problem, but the High Court's decision and Tony Abbott's negativity in blocking offshore processing prevent the Government from pursuing this option,' he said.
'It is therefore only prudent to introduce this new single, consistent and efficient process.'
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has consulted extensively with key stakeholders, including non-government organisations, refugee advocate groups and other agencies in developing the new framework.
The new system will apply to asylum seekers who arrive in Australia from 24 March as well as those who arrived prior to that date but had not yet had a primary assessment interview.
Those who are currently having their asylum claims assessed in the non-statutory process will continue in that process with access to existing IMR arrangements. All asylum seekers will continue to have access to judicial review.
DIAC will also commence processing complementary protection claims as part of the protection visa framework from 24 March, in line with legislation passed by the Australian Parliament in September 2011.
This will mean people facing certain types of harm – not covered by the Refugee Convention but still warranting protection – will be recognised sooner, making the process more efficient and less stressful for vulnerable people at risk of violation of their fundamental human rights.
Mr Bowen said the Government remained committed to ensuring the timely and efficient consideration of claims for protection and reduce the time asylum seekers spent in immigration detention or in community arrangements awaiting an outcome.
More information on the processing changes is available.
See: Onshore – Protection
Last update: Monday, 19 March 2012 at 14:58 AEST