Applying for a protection visa

This page contains information about visa options available for illegal maritime arrivals (IMAs), how claims for protection are processed and current laws and regulations about protection visa applications.

For detailed information about the protection visa application process, read the Protection Application Information and Guides (PAIG). These are also available in a range of languages.

A very small number of illegal arrivals are eligible for the Primary Application Information Service (PAIS). PAIS is a Government-funded service to help certain illegal arrivals apply for a protection visa. For more information, read PAIG: Support in applying for a protection visa.

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has lifted the application bar for the vast majority of IMAs in Australia and invited them to apply for a Temporary Protection visa (TPV) or a Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV) in Australia.

IMAs are now expected to lodge an application for a TPV or a SHEV to present their claims for protection and resolve their status in Australia. IMAs who have not received their invitation to apply letter are not prevented from lodging an application.

Failure to lodge a visa application and maintain contact with us will be taken as an indication that an IMA no longer intends to seek protection in Australia. This might affect their support services, including income support and could also impact their Bridging visa. IMAs who do not lodge a TPV or SHEV application are expected to leave Australia.

If you are unable to lodge an application immediately, you must contact us and provide the reasons why, along with your client and boat identification numbers, your name and date of birth.

Make sure you have provided your most recent address and other contact details to us  by calling 1300 728 662.

Visa options for illegal maritime arrivals

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 TPV or SHEV if:

  • you arrived in Australia illegally
  • you lodge a valid application
  • you are assessed as engaging Australia’s protection obligations, and
  • you meet other requirements, such as health, security, and character checks.

To apply for a SHEV, at least one member of your family unit must declare an intention to work and/or study in regional Australia. To work and/or study is not a requirement of your visa—if you do not work and/or study in regional Australia it will not affect your visa. However, it will mean that you will not meet the SHEV pathway to other visas.

To help you decide which visa to apply for, you can find out more about Temporary Protection visas and Safe Haven Enterprise visas, and you can read the PAIG: Visa options for illegal arrivals seeking protection.

Unaccompanied minors

Are you under the age of 18 years and arrived in Australia without a parent or legal guardian? Specific information is available for you about applying for a protection visa.

The Fast Track Assessment process

Your protection visa application will be assessed under the Fast Track Assessment process if:

  • you arrived on or after 13 August 2012 and before 1 January 2014
  • you have never been taken to a Regional Processing Centre
  • the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has allowed you to make a valid protection visa application, and
  • you lodge a valid protection visa application on or after 18 April 2015.

Applications requiring further assessment

Reassessment of cases affected by the SZQRB Full Federal Court judgment

The SZQRB Full Federal Court judgment found that the wrong legal test was applied and procedural fairness was denied in the International Treaties Obligations Assessment (ITOA) for a person known as SZQRB. Other people who had cases similar to SZQRB were also affected by this judgment. These cases will be reassessed using the correct legal test and with proper procedural fairness.

Website privacy breach

In February 2014, a routine report was released on our website that unintentionally allowed access to personal information about people who were in immigration detention on 31 January 2014. This information was accessible online for a short period of time before it was removed from our website. If this included your details, information is available about how to give us any protection claims related to the website privacy breach.

Thinking of home? See more information on voluntary returns and the International Organisation for Migration.'
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When will I be invited to apply for a visa?

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has lifted the application bar for the vast majority of IMAs in Australia and invited them to apply for a Temporary Protection visa (TPV) or a Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV) in Australia.

IMAs are now expected to lodge an application for a TPV or a SHEV to present their claims for protection and resolve their status in Australia.

IMAs who have not received their invitation to apply letter are not prevented from lodging an application.

Failure to lodge a visa application and maintain contact with us will be taken as an indication that an IMA no longer intends to seek protection in Australia. This might affect their support services, including income support and could also impact their Bridging visa. IMAs who do not lodge a TPV or SHEV application are expected to leave Australia.

If you are unable to lodge an application immediately, you must contact us and provide the reasons why, and include your client and boat identification numbers, name and date of birth.

Make sure that you have provided your most recent address and other contact details to us. You can do this by calling 1300 728 662.

Information on how to apply and the application forms are located in the Protection Application Information Guides.





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What can I do while my application is being processed?

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.

Make sure that you have provided your most recent address and other contact details to us by calling 1300 728 662 with your name, date of birth, boat identification number, home address and contact phone number.

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What do I have to do to lodge a valid protection visa application?

You need to choose whether to apply for a TPV or a SHEV and fill out the application form.

Information to help you choose is available in the PAIG: Visa options for illegal arrivals seeking protection.

Whichever visa application form you lodge must be signed and must include all the information about you and the other people in your family, including your claims for protection and information about your identity. You should provide certified copies of documents, including identity documents, with your visa application and bring the originals of those documents to the interview. More information about the application forms is available in the PAIG: The protection visa application forms.

You must also pay the visa application charge of $35 at the time your lodge your visa application.

More information on how to lodge your visa application form is available in the PAIG: Lodging your protection visa application.

Failure to maintain contact with us and lodge a visa application will be taken as an indication that an IMA no longer intends to seek protection in Australia. This might affect their support services, including income support and could also impact their Bridging visa. IMAs who do not lodge a TPV or SHEV application are expected to leave Australia.

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

No, you can apply directly for a Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV).

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 Temporary Protection visa (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.

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has lifted the application bar for the vast majority of IMAs in Australia and invited them to apply for a TPV or SHEV in Australia.

IMAs are now expected to lodge an application for a TPV or a SHEV to present their claims for protection and resolve their status in Australia.

IMAs who have not received their invitation to apply letter are not prevented from lodging an application.

Failure to maintain contact with us and lodge a visa application will be taken as an indication that an IMA no longer intends to seek protection in Australia. This might affect their support services, including income support and could also impact their Bridging visa. IMAs who do not lodge a TPV or SHEV application are expected to leave Australia.

You can get information on how to apply from the Protection Application Information and Guides.

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

You can apply for a SHEV, whether or not you are currently living in, or want to live in, an area that is part of regional Australia for the SHEV arrangements.

You will need to indicate in the SHEV application form that you intend to work and/or study in a regional area while accessing minimum social security benefits. You do not have to be currently living in regional Australia to apply for a SHEV. You do not have to live in a regional area if granted a SHEV. You only need to declare an intention on the application form.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Can I work and/or study if I am granted a SHEV?

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 regional area will count towards meeting the SHEV pathway requirements.

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What support arrangements are available to TPV and SHEV holders?

TPV and SHEV holders can work, get assistance with finding a job access Medicare, and receive social security benefits (Centrelink). 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.

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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 other 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 visa in Australia (either temporary or permanent), you will need to satisfy all of that visa’s requirements to be able to be granted that visa.

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Do I have to move to regional Australia if I am granted a SHEV?

As a SHEV holder, you can live, work or study anywhere in Australia you choose. There are no penalties if you choose to remain living, working or studying in an area not included in the SHEV arrangements. However, if you do work and/or study in an area that is part of regional Australia under the SHEV arrangements, as a SHEV holder that work and/or study could count towards meeting the SHEV pathway requirements.

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Is it more difficult to meet the criteria for a SHEV than for a TPV?

No. The requirements to be granted a SHEV are almost the same as the requirements for a TPV. The SHEV and the TPV are for people who engage Australia’s protection obligations and meet all other visa requirements, such as health, security and character.

A TPV will allow the holder to stay in Australia for up to three years and does not provide a pathway to certain other visas in Australia, such as skilled or family visas. A SHEV will allow the holder to stay in Australia for five years, requires the applicant to indicate an intention to work without accessing Special Benefit payments and/or study in regional Australia, and might provide a pathway to certain other visas in Australia such as skilled or family visas.

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I don't want to move. Should I wait until the state or territory that I live in commences SHEV arrangements before applying for a SHEV?

No. You should not delay applying for a TPV or a SHEV. If you are granted a SHEV, you can continue living in your state or territory, even if that state or territory has not yet commenced SHEV arrangements.

The areas of Australian states and territories that are considered part of regional Australia for the SHEV arrangements are listed on the regional Australia page.

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If the area I'm working/studying in becomes a SHEV regional area, does my previous work/study count towards the SHEV pathway requirements?

No. Only work and/or study undertaken after an area joins the SHEV arrangements will count towards meeting the SHEV pathway requirements.

If you begin working and/or studying in a regional area, but that area is later removed from the SHEV arrangements, you can continue to work and study there and have it count towards meeting the SHEV pathway requirements.

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Will I breach my visa conditions or will my SHEV be cancelled if I do not work or study in a SHEV regional area?

No. You can live, work or study anywhere in Australia you choose. Living, working and studying in regional Australia is not a condition of the SHEV.  If you do not live, work or study in regional Australia, this will not be a breach of your visa conditions and will not lead to your SHEV being cancelled. There are no penalties if a SHEV holder chooses to remain in an area not included in the SHEV arrangements.

However, if you do not work and/or study in regional Australia, you will not be able to meet the SHEV pathway requirements.

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What does 'finally determined' mean?

What does ‘finally determined’ mean?      

 Your application for a protection visa will be finally determined when:

  • you were refused the grant of the visa and you have not sought merits review of that decision within the period allowed to seek merits review; or
  • the Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA) or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal have affirmed the decision to refuse to grant you the visa; or
  • you have been refused the grant of the visa and that decision cannot be reviewed at the IAA as you are an excluded fast track applicant.