Illegal maritime arrivals (IMAs)

This site is to support the approximately 30,500 people in Australia who arrived illegally by boat on or after 13 August 2012 and before 1 January 2014. People who arrived illegally by boat are referred to as illegal maritime arrivals, or IMAs.

IMAs should now be applying for a temporary 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 an IMA is unable to lodge an application immediately, they must contact us and provide the reasons why, and provide their client and boat identification numbers along with their name and date of birth.

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

IMAs should ensure that they have provided their most recent address and other contact details to us. They can do this by calling 1300 728 662.

This does not apply to persons liable for transfer to a Regional Processing Centre.

The Australian Government’s Operation Sovereign Borders policy to manage IMAs has not changed. Any people smuggling boat that attempts to travel to Australia illegally will be turned back. Settlement in Australia will never be an option for anyone who travels illegally by boat. The rules apply to everyone: families, children, unaccompanied children, educated and skilled.

Reminder to apply letters

The Department is sending letters to IMAs who were invited to apply in 2015 to end-June 2016 to remind them of the need to lodge a TPV or SHEV application.

Not lodging a TPV or SHEV application will be taken as indication that an IMA does not intend to seek protection in Australia and they will be expected to leave Australia.

The reminder letter asks IMAs to either lodge a TPV or SHEV application within 60 days or to contact the Department if they need additional time.

If an IMA does not lodge a TPV or SHEV application or contact the Department within 60 days of the date of the letter, any income support payments they are receiving through Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) may be suspended.

IMA who make contact with the Department in response to the letter will be given a further 30 days to lodge a TPV or SHEV application. After 30 days those who have not lodged an application will have their access to income support payments suspended.

Once access to SRSS income support payments has been removed, they may only be reinstated following the lodgment of TPV or SHEV application.

Key information sent to IMAs for inclusion with their application

To meet the demand for information and remove the need for IMAs to request documents through the formal Freedom of Information Act 1982 process, we have sent key information to IMAs who have not lodged a visa application.

Where the information exists we have provided a CD with a copy of the IMA’s:

  • arrival interview (written and audio recordings)
  • previous application forms and supporting documents (including identity documents)

For most IMAs, these are the only documents we hold that are relevant to making an application.

After this information has been released, it is expected that you will lodge a TPV or SHEV application.

If you have not received this information, notify our Freedom of Information section at foi.nsw@border.gov.au.

Voluntary returns

You can choose to return home or to your country of lawful permanent residence at any time. If you are thinking about returning home, you might be able to get assistance from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The type of assistance is based on your individual circumstances.

Thinking of home? See more information on voluntary returns and the International Organisation for Migration.'
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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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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.