The Australian Government will provide at least 15,000 places for Afghan nationals, through its Humanitarian and Family Visa Program over four years.
The move reflects a sustained commitment following Australia’s two decades of operations in the country, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alex Hawke said in a statement today.
“This increased allocation includes 10,000 places for Afghan nationals within Australia’s existing Humanitarian Program and at least 5,000 visas within the Family stream,” the Minister said.
He said the increased, multi-year commitment was a significant one, to meet Australia’s obligations and address the ongoing humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. It follows the initial allocation of 3,000 places in August 2021.
“The War in Afghanistan was Australia’s longest, and a humanitarian intake of this size reflects this. Our commitment to Afghan refugees will be second only in scale to our humanitarian intake from Syria and Iraq,” Minister Hawke said.
“Today’s announcement of 15,000 places follows our initial allocation of 3,000 places to Afghanistan in August 2021, which as we indicated then, was a floor and not a ceiling. This continues to be the case. The Government will continue to monitor processing numbers and reserves the right to increase the program in future years,” Minister Hawke said.
“Since evacuations commenced from Kabul in August, more than 4,300 Afghan evacuees have been brought to Australia and are in the process of securing permanent visas over coming months, as they establish their lives in their new home,” he said.
“There has been an unprecedented level of visa applications from Afghanistan for our Humanitarian and Migration visa programs. In recognition of this demand, and in support of this specific visa commitment, dedicated teams within the Department of Home Affairs have been established to undertake priority processing,” Minister Hawke said.
The Australian Department of Home Affairs has received more than 32,500 applications for the Humanitarian program from Afghan nationals, on behalf of more than 145,000 individuals.
The Government confirms Australia will give priority in the Humanitarian Program to:
- former Locally Engaged Employees (LEE) and their immediate family members;
- subclass 449 holders (current and former) and their immediate family members;
- those with enduring links to Australia, such as Afghans who were employed by Australian non-government organisations or who worked on Australian Government funded projects, and Coalition partner LEE and their immediate family; and
- Women and girls, ethnic minorities, LGBTQI+ and other identified minority groups.
“These priorities recognise the dangerous and volatile nature of the situation in Afghanistan, acknowledge those at greatest risk, and recognise the unique and exceptional contributions made by individuals and their families to the Australian and Coalition missions in Afghanistan,” Minister Hawke said.
Australia is also continuing to work closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to identify and progress cases for those most in need of resettlement, he said.
“I have directed the Department of Home Affairs to give priority processing to the Afghan cohort in the Humanitarian Program and to give priority processing to all Afghan nationals within the Family Program.”
Afghan nationals are also able to pursue other migration pathways to Australia depending on their circumstances, including through the Community Support Program, the Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement Pilot, the Family stream, and skilled visa categories.
“Australia is continuing to work with the UN and key allies to address the growing humanitarian situation in the region. We again call on the Taliban to honour its undertakings to allow Australians and Afghan visa holders to depart Afghanistan safely if they wish to do so,” Minister Hawke said.
Minister Hawke will conduct a series of roundtables with the Afghan-Australian community in the coming weeks.
Further information is available on the Department of Home Affairs website: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-and-support/afghanistan-update