New measures for TPV holders

DIMIA Media Release
13 July 2004
VPS 99/2004

The Australian government today announced that 9500 temporary protection visa holders would have the opportunity to apply for mainstream migration visas to enable them to remain in Australia permanently, without needing to leave the country to lodge their applications.

Many thousands of temporary protection visa holders already have the opportunity to remain permanently as refugees if they have a continuing need for protection.

Minister for Immigration, Senator Amanda Vanstone, announced the initiative, along with a new return-pending visa, which would allow people not in need of further protection, 18-months in which to make arrangements to return to their home country, or elsewhere.

'These arrangements will ensure that Australia's border integrity is maintained, our international obligations to refugees are met and that those who are making a significant contribution to the Australian community are able to remain here,' the Minister said.

'This package will continue to send a strong message internationally that Australia is serious about protecting its borders and dissuade asylum seekers from paying people smugglers in an attempt to enter Australia without authority.

'This decision in relation to the opportunity for those on TPVs to apply to stay in Australia permanently, recognises the fact that many TPV holders are making a significant contribution to the Australian community, particularly in regional areas,' the Minister said.

'Because of links with Australia through social or work activities, many of these people were able to apply for mainstream migration visas from offshore. However, they'll now not only be able to apply, but do so without having to leave Australia.

'In preparing regulations to enact the Government's decision, I will be asking my department to ensure they are framed to ensure the contribution of many TPV holders are making in regional areas is clearly recognised.

The three-year TPV was introduced in 1999 in response to a surge of unauthorised boat arrivals who had used people smugglers to travel to Australia illegally. The new arrangements will also apply to offshore temporary humanitarian visa holders.

The Minister said that TPV holders still found to need protection will continue to receive it. Under existing arrangements, this will be a permanent visa in many cases.

The Minister said the new return-pending visa would allow people, who it had been determined no longer need protection, much more time in which to make arrangements to depart Australia.

'The return-pending visa will give people 18 months in which to make their own arrangements to depart,' the Minister said.

'People granted the return-pending visa would continue to receive the same benefits available with their TPV, such as Medicare and work rights.

'Reintegration packages, including airfares and financial assistance, will continue to be provided to help any current or former TPV holders resettle in their country of origin,' the Minister said.

'My department will be writing to all TPV holders once regulations have been made to advise them of the new measures,' the Minister said.


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