Illegal maritime arrivals

This site is designed to help 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

All IMAs who are seeking protection in Australia must apply for a Temporary Protection visa or Safe Haven Enterprise visa before 1 October 2017.

On 21 May 2017 the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection announced that IMAs must lodge their Temporary Protection visa (TPV) or Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV) application before 1 October 2017.

If you are an IMA and do not lodge a visa application, it will be taken that you no longer intend to seek protection in Australia.

You can lodge your application online via your ImmiAccount.

If you lodge your application by post, you should allow sufficient time for the application to be received by the Department before 1 October 2017.

IMAs who do not apply before this date are expected to depart Australia. If you do not lodge, you will:

  • be barred from applying for any type of visa in Australia
  • no longer have access to support services other than Medicare and education for school-age children.

At any time, the Department will assist IMAs who wish to voluntarily depart Australia to do so in the shortest possible timeframe.

These web pages contain Frequently Asked Questions (72KB PDF) about the 21 May announcement and information in several languages to help you lodge a TPV or SHEV application.

Illegal maritime arrivals (IMAS) who have been temporarily transferred from Nauru or PNG to Australia for medical treatment, are barred from applying for a Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) or a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) in Australia.

You 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.

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

If you do not lodge a TPV or SHEV application, whether or not you have received an invitation to apply or reminder to apply letter, you are expected to leave Australia.

For information on how to apply, application forms and the process see: Protection Application Information Guides. These pages include further information and resources to help you.

Direct information has also been sent to you if you have not lodged a visa application.

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

If you are not able to lodge an application immediately, you must contact us and provide the reasons why, and provide your client and boat identification numbers along with your name and date of birth.

Failure to lodge a visa application and maintain contact with us will be taken as an indication that you no longer intend to seek protection in Australia.

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 sent 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 within 60 days or to contact us if they need additional time.

If you have not received your invitation to apply letter, you are not prevented from lodging an application.

If you do not lodge a TPV or SHEV application or contact us within 60 days of the date of the letter, any income support payments you are receiving through Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) might be suspended.

If you contact with us in response to the letter you will be given a further 30 days to lodge a TPV or SHEV application. After 30 days if you have not lodged an application, your access to income support payments will be suspended.

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

Direct information

Key information has been directly sent to you and your nominated agents for inclusion with your applications.

FOI letters

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

Where the information exists we have provided a CD with a copy of your:

  • 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 a TPV or SHEV application will be lodged.

If you or your agent has not received this information, you should notify our Freedom of Information section at foi.nsw@border.gov.au.

Health processing letters

As part of the TPV/SHEV application process we have also issued health requests to you if you had not undertaken the full suite of health requirements previously as part of the initial screening process. This includes IMAs at all stages of the visa process and those yet to lodge a TPV or SHEV application.

You are encouraged to consider attending an appointment with the Department’s visa medical provider. More information can be obtained by email at tpva.planning.and.performance.support@border.gov.au.

Returning home

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.

For more information see: Voluntary returns