Frequently asked questions

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.

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.

When should I lodge an FOI request?

You do not need to lodge a freedom of information (FOI) request to get documents you have already given us.

We are now mailing key information to IMAs who have been invited but are yet to lodge a visa application. Where the information exists we will provide 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 and you should not need to request information under FOI.

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

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.

Why do I need my claims re-assessed when applying for a TPV or SHEV?

To be granted a TPV or SHEV you must meet all of the criteria at the time a decision is made.

When applying for a TPV or SHEV, you can attach an existing assessment or letter showing you engage Australia's protection obligations. However, you should also state why you continue to engage Australia's protection obligations.

How do I update my claims for protection in my new application?

You can include a statement in the section of the application form that asks you for the reasons you are claiming protection (Part C – Your Reasons for claiming protection). A decision maker will then take your previous assessment into account and consider any changes the country from which you sought asylum from and/or your personal circumstances.

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.

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.

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

No. The requirements to be granted a SHEV are almost exactly 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.

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.

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.

Can Special Benefit payments be received by the SHEV holder to support them while they work or study?

SHEV holders can receive Special Benefit payments at any time while holding their SHEV if they are found to be entitled to this benefit. However, to meet the pathway requirements, the following applies to Special Benefit payments:

Work requirement

To meet the SHEV pathways work requirement, any work a SHEV holder wants to have counted towards meeting the pathway must have been undertaken without receiving any Special Benefit payments.

Study requirement

The Special Benefit payments restriction does not apply to SHEV holders undertaking full-time study in regional Australia. They can receive Special Benefit payments or other financial assistance and have that study count towards meeting the SHEV pathway requirements.. However, people studying full time may not qualify for Special Benefit payments. Eligibility for Special Benefit payments is determined by the Department of Human Services.

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

As a SHEV holder, you can live, work or study wherever in Australia you choose. There are no penalties if you choose to remain living, working and/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, then that work and/or study could count towards meeting the SHEV pathway requirements.

Do I need to leave my job immediately and move to a regional area after I am granted a SHEV?

No. You don't have to leave your job immediately after SHEV grant to obtain employment and/or study in regional Australia. The requirement is that you work and/or study in regional Australia for three and a half years only. After you are granted a SHEV, you have some time to make arrangements to find work and/or study in regional Australia.

If you choose to voluntarily leave your current employment, you need to be aware that you may not be able to receive Special Benefit payments for a limited period. For more information, including a list of the mutual obligation requirements for all jobseekers, refer to the Department of Human Services: 'Penalties for not meeting your Mutual Obligation Requirements'.

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.

Can I live in an area not considered part of regional Australia under SHEV arrangements?

Yes. You can live in a different area to where you study or work, although in most cases people work or study in the same area where they live. The requirement to meet the pathways is not that you 'live' in that area, but that you work and/or study there.

What if my state or territory is not part of the SHEV programme yet?

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.

Work or study before state commences?

No. Only work or study undertaken after an area commences 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.

How do I demonstrate my intention to work or study in a regional area as part of applying for a SHEV?

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.

Do I need to meet the SHEV work or study requirements or does my primary applicant?

To be eligible to apply for certain other visas, a SHEV holder will need to either:

  • meet the SHEV pathway requirements individually and apply separately for a visa, or
  • meet the SHEV pathway requirements and include their family as dependant applicants in the visa application, or
  • have a member of their family unit who has met the pathway requirements include them in their visa application as a dependant applicant.

Both primary applicants and their family members will need to meet the application requirements of the visa they apply for.

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

No. You can live, work and/or study wherever in Australia you choose. Working and/or studying in regional Australia is not a condition of the SHEV.  If you do not work and/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.

Should I wait for my state to join?

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.

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.