Safe Haven Enterprise visas

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There are two types of protection visas available for people who arrived in Australia illegally: Temporary Protection visas (TPVs) and Safe Haven Enterprise visas (SHEVs). You could be granted a SHEV if:

  • you arrived in Australia illegally
  • you are invited to apply for a SHEV and lodge a valid application
  • at least one member of your family unit declares an intention to work and/or study in regional Australia
  • you are assessed as engaging Australia’s protection obligations, and
  • you meet other requirements, such as health, security, character and identity checks.

If you are found not to engage Australia’s protection obligations, you will be expected to return home or to another country where you have right of entry.

What you can do on a SHEV

A SHEV will allow you to stay in Australia for five years.

A SHEV will allow you to work and have access to Medicare, social security benefits (Centrelink) and get assistance with finding a job. SHEV holders can also access short-term counselling for torture and trauma where required. Adult SHEV holders will have access to the Adult Migrant English Programme. School-aged children will have access to primary and secondary schooling.

Conditions on a SHEV

As a SHEV holder, you can ask for approval to travel outside Australia and then re-enter Australia on your SHEV. International travel will only be approved if you can demonstrate compassionate or compelling circumstances that justify the travel. You must get approval in writing from us before you travel. You must not, under any circumstances, travel to the country from which you, or the primary applicant on your SHEV application, were found to engage Australia’s protection obligations. You must request approval to travel every time you want to depart Australia.

If you depart Australia without written approval, your SHEV could be cancelled.

You can ask for written approval for international travel by completing form 1454—Request for approval to travel under condition 8570 (Restricted Travel) and send an electronic copy of this form to travel.request@border.gov.au.

If you are granted a SHEV, you cannot sponsor family members for a visa through the Australian Humanitarian or Family Migration Programmes.

You must tell us if you change your residential address, within 28 days of moving. You can do this by filling out form 929—Change of address and/or passport details.

You will not be eligible for another visa, other than a TPV or another SHEV, while you remain in Australia, unless you are granted a SHEV and meet the SHEV pathway requirements.

The SHEV pathway requirements

One benefit of the SHEV is that you might be eligible to apply for other substantive visas later on (but not a permanent Protection visa) if we assess that you meet the SHEV pathway requirements. You will meet these requirements if, for at least three and a half years while on a SHEV, you have been:

  • employed in regional Australia and not receiving certain social security benefits
  • enrolled in full-time study in regional Australia, or
  • a combination of the above.

The visas you might be able to apply for if you meet these requirements are listed in PAIG: Visa options for illegal arrivals seeking protection.

You could also be eligible to apply for a substantive visa if a member of your family unit that was included on your SHEV application meets the above requirements and that family member is included, or has included you, in any subsequent visa application.

As soon as you think you meet these requirements, you can provide evidence of this to us. If we assess that you have met the SHEV pathway requirements, you will no longer be barred from applying for a range of onshore visas. However, you will need to meet all visa criteria to be granted that visa.

You can apply for another type of visa as soon as we advise you that you meet the SHEV pathway requirements. You do not have to wait for your SHEV to expire.

If you apply for another type of visa and your SHEV expires before a decision is made on that application, you will be granted a bridging visa while your application is being processed.

If you apply for another type of visa after you meet the SHEV pathway requirements, you will not need to be found to engage Australia’s protection obligation as part of that visa application. You will, however, need to meet all of the criteria for that visa.

Keep in mind that different visas have different definitions of who is a member of a family unit. You should check the definition for the onshore visa you want to apply for.

If a member of a family unit that was on your SHEV is not included on a further onshore visa application, they can apply for another SHEV or a TPV.

If, when your SHEV ceases, you have not met the SHEV pathway requirements, you can apply for another SHEV or a TPV before your current visa expires. To be granted another SHEV or a TPV, you will need to meet the criteria for the visa, including being found to engage Australia’s protection obligations.

Although a SHEV usually lasts for five years, if you have already made a valid application for another SHEV or a TPV by that expiry date, your current SHEV will remain in effect until your new application is decided or withdrawn.

If you are granted another SHEV, your periods of employment and/or study over the course of both SHEVs will count towards meeting the SHEV pathway requirements.

Whether you meet the SHEV pathway requirements or not, you should apply for another visa before your SHEV expires. If you do not, you will become unlawful in Australia and risk being taken into immigration detention.

Work

To meet work criteria of the SHEV pathway requirements, work must be:

  • lawful
  • paid
  • in a regional area that is included in the SHEV arrangements, and
  • full-time, part-time, temporary, casual, seasonal or a combination of these.

The work does not have to be continuous. If you have breaks between periods of work (such as doing seasonal work), each calendar month that you work will count towards the SHEV pathway requirements. It is your responsibility as a SHEV holder to find employment in a regional area that is part of the SHEV arrangements if you want to meet the SHEV pathway requirements.

Any work that you do while receiving Special Benefit payments will not count towards meeting the SHEV pathway requirements.

Study

To meet the study criteria of the SHEV pathway requirements, you need to physically attend study that is:

  • accredited by the Australian Qualifications Framework, including a maximum of one course leading to a Certificate I and any courses leading to a Certificate II or above; and
  • full time, either
    • at the campus of an education provider located in a regional area included in the SHEV arrangements, or
    • at a primary school, high school or college in regional Australia for a minimum of 161 weeks (consistent with three and a half standard academic years) of full-time registered study.

Participating in Adult Migrant English Programme (AMEP) courses that meet these criteria (Certificate I, II & III courses only) will count towards meeting the SHEV pathway study requirements. The AMEP foundation course cannot be counted as study for the purpose of the SHEV pathway requirements.

Social security benefits

While holding a SHEV, it is open to you to access any social security benefits that you are eligible for.

However, to meet the SHEV pathway work requirements, you need to work for 42 months without accessing Special Benefit payments (including any Special Benefits ancillary payments).

The benefits that you can receive while on a SHEV and still have work count towards meeting the SHEV pathway requirements are:

  • Family Tax Benefit A and B
  • Single Income Family Supplement
  • Double Orphan Pension
  • Parental Leave Pay (work test requirements)
  • Dad and Partner Pay (work test requirements)
  • Health Care Card (Family Tax Benefit)
  • Child Care Benefit/Child Care Rebate
  • School Kids Bonus
  • Child Dental Benefits Schedule
  • Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance
  • Stillborn Baby Payment
  • Low Income Health Care Card.

Applying for a SHEV

If you have not yet lodged a valid application for a protection visa

When it is your turn to have your claims assessed, we will ask the Minister to allow you to apply for a TPV or SHEV. It could take some time before this happens. If the Minister agrees, we will send you a letter to let you know when you should apply.

The letter will include information on how to lodge a valid TPV or SHEV application and what information you need to give us with your application. If you want to apply for a SHEV, you will then need to complete and lodge the SHEV application form (form 790—Application for a Safe Haven Enterprise visa). Do not lodge a TPV application form (form 866—Application for a protection visa) if you want a SHEV.

Do not lodge applications for both a SHEV and a TPV. If you do, the TPV application will be invalid and only the SHEV application will be processed.

Be patient. It could be some time before you are invited to apply for a visa. It is important for you to keep your contact details current with us. This includes the address where you live and your phone number so we can contact you with important information about your immigration status. Remember, this is also a condition of holding a bridging visa and being able to live in the community.

To update your contact details, call 1300 728 662 with your name, date of birth, boat identification number, home address and contact phone number.

You can prepare for when we start processing your case by making sure you have original and genuine documents as evidence of your identity, nationality and citizenship ready for when we ask for them. These documents need to be from your country of origin or other countries you travelled through or lived in before you arrived in Australia.

You can also gather evidence to support your claims for protection. When we invite you to apply for a protection visa, it is important to give us your protection claims early and in full. If you do not give us all of your protection claims and we refuse your application, you might not have another chance to provide these claims.

For general information about applying for protection visas, read the PAIG.

If you have already been granted a TPV

If you have already been granted a TPV, but you want a SHEV, you should fill in and lodge a form 790—Application for a Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV). When we receive your application form, we will ask the Minister to allow you to lodge a valid application for a SHEV. If the Minister agrees, we will start processing your application.

Holding a TPV does not mean you will be automatically granted a SHEV. As it is a new visa application, we must assess whether you engage Australia’s protection obligations and meet all other requirements, such as health, security, character and identity requirements. If the checks you did for your TPV application are still valid, we might be able to use them for your SHEV application, to process your SHEV application as quickly as possible.

More information to help you choose between a TPV and a SHEV is available in the PAIG: Visa options for illegal arrivals seeking protection. For information on how to lodge a SHEV application, read PAIG: Lodging your application for a protection visa.

If you currently have a TPV application being processed

If you currently have a TPV application being processed, you should wait for a decision on that application. If your TPV application is granted, and if you then want to apply for a SHEV, fill in and lodge a form 790—Application for a Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV). We will then ask the Minister to allow you to make a valid application for a SHEV. If the Minister agrees, we will start processing your application.

If the health, character, security and identity checks you did for your TPV application are still valid, we might be able to use them for your SHEV application, to process your SHEV application as quickly as possible.

If you are considering applying for a SHEV before your TPV application is decided, be aware that:

  • the Minister is not obliged to lift any application bars to allow you to apply for a SHEV
  • you will have to withdraw your TPV application 
  • this process will result in delays to you receiving a visa decision.

If you withdraw your TPV application before you apply for a SHEV, the bridging visa you were granted in association with your TPV application will cease approximately 28 days after you withdraw your TPV application. If you do not apply for another visa during that 28 day period and your bridging visa ceases, your immigration status will become unlawful.

For more information on choosing between a TPV and a SHEV, read the PAIG: Visa options for illegal arrivals seeking protection. For information on how to lodge a SHEV application, read PAIG: Lodging your application for a protection visa.

Can I still apply for a permanent Protection visa?

No. As you arrived in Australia illegally, you can only apply for a SHEV or a TPV.

Under new legislation, any valid application for a permanent Protection visa lodged by a person who arrived in Australia illegally that was not finalised by 16 December 2014 has been converted into a TPV application.

Do I need a Temporary Protection visa before applying for a Safe Haven Enterprise visa?

No.

When it is your turn to have your protection claims assessed, we will ask the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection to allow you to apply for either a Temporary Protection visa (TPV) or a Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV). If the Minister agrees, we will send you an invitation to apply for one of these visas.

Your invitation letter will include information on how to lodge either a valid TPV or SHEV application. You can also get information on how to apply from the Protection Application Information and Guides.

You can only apply for one of these visas at a time. If you want to apply for a SHEV, you will need to complete and lodge the SHEV application form (form 790—Application for a Safe Haven Enterprise visa). Do not lodge a TPV application form (form 866—Application for a protection visa) if you want a SHEV. If you lodge both an application for a TPV and a SHEV at the same time, the TPV application will be invalid and only the SHEV application will be processed.

How do I demonstrate my ‘intention’ to work or study in a regional area as part of applying for a Safe Haven Enterprise visa?

When you apply for a Safe Haven Enterprise visa, you need to declare that you, or a family member in your application, intend to work and/or study in a regional area of a participating state or territory. You do this by answering question one of Part B in form 790—Application for a Safe Haven Enterprise visa.

What areas are considered ‘regional Australia’?

Areas defined as ‘regional Australia’ under the SHEV arrangements include postcodes nominated by a state or territory that has agreed to participate in the SHEV arrangements.

The list of the regional areas that are participating in SHEV arrangements can change over time. You should monitor this list for information about regional areas for the SHEV arrangements.

What if the state/territory I want to work or study in is not part of the SHEV programme?

If you arrived illegally and the Minister has agreed to allow you to apply for a TPV or a SHEV, you can apply for a SHEV, whether or not you are currently living in, or want to live in, an area that is classed as regional Australia for the SHEV arrangements.

You will need to indicate in the SHEV application form that you intend, at some point during the visa grant period of five years, to work and/or study in a regional area if you are granted a SHEV. You do not have to be currently living in regional Australia to apply for a SHEV.

If you work and/or study in an area that is not part of regional Australia for the SHEV arrangements, that work or study will not count towards meeting the SHEV pathway requirements.

What support arrangements are available to TPV and SHEV holders?

TPV and SHEV holders can work and access Medicare, receive social security benefits (Centrelink) and get assistance with finding a job. They can also access short-term counselling for torture and trauma if you want, or other support services offered by the Department of Social Services.

Adult TPV and SHEV holders have access to 510 hours of education and training through the Adult Migrant English Programme (AMEP).

TPV and SHEV holders have permission to work and can access jobactive, a network of organisations funded by the Australian Government to provide employment services to job seekers and employers.

TPV and SHEV holders unable to find work will also be eligible for Special Benefit and/or ‘Work for the Dole’ assistance. Any work done by a SHEV holder while accessing Special Benefit, including Special Benefit ancillary payments, will not count towards meeting the SHEV pathway requirements.

Will I automatically get a permanent visa because I hold a SHEV?

No.

As a SHEV holder, you will only be able to apply for certain permanent visas if you meet the SHEV pathway requirements. The visas you will be eligible to apply for if you meet the SHEV pathway requirements are listed in PAIG: Visa options for illegal arrivals seeking protection.

If you meet the SHEV pathway requirements and you apply for a subsequent onshore visa (either temporary or permanent), you will need to satisfy all of that visa’s requirements to be able to be granted that visa.

Can I work and/or study if I am granted a Safe Haven Enterprise visa?

Yes.

SHEV holders can undertake study and school-aged children can attend primary and secondary schooling.

SHEV holders are able to attend university and TAFE (and similar institutions). However, SHEV holders are not eligible for Commonwealth funding for post-secondary study. If they want to study at a university or TAFE, they will be charged international student rates.

SHEV holders have permission to work and can access jobactive, a network of organisations funded by the Australian Government to provide employment services to job seekers and employers.

Only work or study completed in a designated regional area will count towards meeting the SHEV pathway requirements.