Within Australia’s Immigration program for refugees, applicants who want protection can apply for a number of visas depending on their circumstances. For some visas, applicants must be staying legally in Australia while refugee applicants who entered Australia without a valid visa can apply for visa subclass 785 and 790.

No matter what type of humanitarian and refugee visa you are applying for, you have to know how to apply for a protection visa and what you need to do before you submit your application.

Which Are the Types of Australia Humanitarian and Refugee Visas?

There are several types of Australian visas in the Humanitarian and Refugee Immigration Program:

  • Permanent Protection Visa – subclass 866. This is a permanent protection visa that is granted to individuals who meet the requirements for refugee status and complementary protection. In order to apply for this visa, you must be a legal entrant in Australia under another valid visa. Visa holders are allowed to work, study and travel freely with this type of visa.
  • Temporary Protection Visa- subclass 785. A visa 785 is valid only temporarily and applicants must have entered Australia illegally in order to qualify for this type of visa. If you are granted a temporary protection visa, you are not allowed to travel outside Australia without written permission.
  • Safe Haven Protection Visa- subclass 790. SHEV visa is issued to illegal entrants in Australia only temporarily. Holders of this visa can apply for another visa in Australia if they meet the pathway requirements.
  • Refugee Visas- subclass 200, 201, 203, and 204. Visas in this category are permanent and issued to persons who need Australia’s protection. You must be outside of Australia when you apply for this visa and you cannot enter Australia until the specified date in your visa grant notice, afterward you can stay in Australia indefinitely and apply for citizenship.
  • Global Special Humanitarian Visa- subclass 202. In order to qualify for this visa, you must be outside of Australia at the time of application and you must have a sponsor from within Australia. Your sponsor can be an immediate family member or a close relative. This type of visa is permanent and afterward, you may qualify for Australian citizenship.

Who Is Considered a Refugee?

According to Australia’s Migration Act 1958 an individual is considered a refugee if they are:

  • Someone outside their country of citizenship.
  • Someone with a “well-founded fear of persecution” and cannot return to their home country.

A “well-founded fear of persecution” is considered if the visa applicant:

  • Fears for their safety due to these five reasons:
    • Race.
    • Religious belief.
    • Nationality.
    • Political opinion.
    • Affiliation with a specific group.
  • Fear of persecution in all areas in their country.
  • Fear of serious harm and systematic and discriminatory conduct due to persecution in their country.

Who Meets the Criteria for Complementary Protection?

Persons who are not refugees but, may suffer significant harm if they return to their home country, meet the criteria for complementary protection. Significant harm is defined as:

  • Risk of losing one’s life.
  • Death sentence.
  • Torture.
  • Inhumane punishment.
  • Degrading treatment.

You may be given this visa if you are a family member of someone who is under the complementary protection act.

What Documents Do I Need for a Humanitarian and Refugee Visa?

You will need these documents for a humanitarian and refugee visa in Australia:

  • Valid Passport.
  • Visa Application Form.
  • Photographs and Biometrics.
  • Family Certificates.
  • Health Requirements.
  • Good Character Documents.
  • Australia’s Values Statement.
  • Copies of Earlier Visas.
  • Form 956a or Form 956.
  • For humanitarian visas 200, 201, 202, 203, and 204 you will also need to provide:
  • Proof of Humanitarian Circumstances.
  • Two photographs.
  • Parental Consent Form 1229.
  • A statutory declaration (if the parental consent form is not applicable).
  • Form 1257.
  • Form 842 (only for global visa 202).

How Do I Apply For a Humanitarian and Refugee Visa?

For a humanitarian and refugee visa you can apply online via the ImmiAccount. If you don’t already have an account, then you must register in order to proceed with your application. Once you open your online account you can find the corresponding visa application form and fill it in.

For most humanitarian visas, the application form will contain several questions regarding the protection claims and you should take care to answer the questions as best as you can.

If you cannot complete an online application you can apply by sending your application by post. However, for humanitarian visas (200, 201, 203, and 204) online applications are not feasible and paper applications are the only way of applying.

You must pay the visa fee in order to get your application processed, for both types of applications (online or paper) you are required to pay the fee through the ImmiAccount.

How Much Does an Australia Humanitarian and Refugee Visa Cost?

The cost of a humanitarian and refugee visa depends on the visa type:

  • Protection Visas- subclass 866, 785, and 790 cost AUD40.
  • Humanitarian Visas- subclass 200, 201, 203, and 204 are free of charge.
  • Global Special Humanitarian visa- subclass 202 is free of charge unless you are proposed under the Community Support Program.

How Long Is an Australia Humanitarian and Refugee Visa Valid For?

Humanitarian and Refugee Visas are valid for several years:

  • A temporary protection visa is valid for three years.
  • A safe haven enterprise visa is valid for five years.

These protection visas are valid indefinitely:

  • Protection Visa 866.
  • Humanitarian visa 200, 201, 202, 203, and 204.
  • Global Special Humanitarian visa 202.

Can I Stay Longer?

You can stay longer by applying for a subsequent humanitarian and refugee visa. You have to apply at least three months before your current visa expires and the department may extend your visa momentarily until your new application is approved.

This is only applicable if you have a temporary protection visa, permanent visas allow you to stay in Australia indefinitely.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Humanitarian and Refugee Visa for Australia?

Humanitarian and refugee visas are processed as soon as possible. However, protection visas may take several months to years to get finalized unless applicants belong to the fast-tracking assessment process (available only for visa subclass 785 and 790).

Can I Work With an Australia Humanitarian and Refugee Visa?

If you want to work with a humanitarian visa in Australia, you can work as long as your visa is valid (temporary visas). For a safe haven pathway work is required in order to be eligible for other visas.

Can I Study With an Australia Humanitarian and Refugee Visa?

You are allowed to study with a protection visa in Australia if you want. If you have a global special humanitarian visa, including visas 200, 201, 203, and 204,  then you can attend free English language classes via the Adult Migrant English Program. With other visas, you have access to 510 hours of free classes.

Can I Bring Family Members With Me to Australia Under a Humanitarian and Refugee Visa?

It depends on what type of humanitarian visa you are applying for, you can sponsor family members to come to Australia if you have:

  • A protection visa 866.
  • A humanitarian visa 200, 201, 203, and 204.
  • A global special humanitarian visa 202.

For other humanitarian visas, you can only include other family members if they are with you at the time of the application in Australia. However, you are required to submit any additional documentation for any family member that applies with you for humanitarian and refugee visas.

Is a Protection Visa a Humanitarian Visa?

Protection visas and humanitarian visas belong to the humanitarian and refugee migration scheme but, they are not the same visa. The visas will differ depending on how long they are valid for, on the requirements, the cost, and who is eligible for a protection visa, and who is eligible for a humanitarian visa.

Access to State Services With Humanitarian and Refugee Visa

Persons who hold a humanitarian and refugee visa, have access to Australia’s government services. This includes:

  • Medicare.
  • Centrelink.
  • Jobactive.
  • Trauma Counselling (if you want).