Afghans evacuated to Australia on temporary visas enjoy permanent protection

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They have been allowed to board the flights on temporary emergency three-month visas, which are due to expire next month.

The visas specified that pass holders, once in Australia, were not allowed to apply for “any other visa except for another (temporary) subclass 449 humanitarian stay visa, without permission from the Home Secretary, ”copies of visa documents obtained by SBS News showed.

A copy of the flight offer with temporary visa given to an Afghan evacuee.

Source: Provided

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Thursday announced the government would allow temporary visa holders to switch to permanent visas, as part of a $ 27 million program to support evacuees.

The government has pledged more than $ 6 million to help legal services help evacuees switch from 449 visas to permanent visas.

The move was hailed by military lawyer Glenn Kolomeitz, who helped evacuate more than 1,000 Afghans, including many allies who assisted the Australian Defense Force and the Kabul Embassy as interpreters and agents of security.

Mr. Kolomeitz’s team at GAP Veteran & Legal Services worked on a voluntary basis. He had previously raised concerns about the uncertainty for evacuees given the threat of visa expiration specified in their flight offers.

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“It will be a lot fairer for the Afghans themselves and it will make it a lot fairer for the legal practitioners trying to help them,” Kolomeitz told SBS News.

Human rights lawyer Arif Hussein, of the Refugee Counseling and Assistance Service, said more clarity was needed, raising concerns about those whose claims could be denied.

“The government must ensure that people have adequate rights to appeal and access legal systems, which at this stage is not clear,” he said.

Former Australian Defense Force interpreters in Kabul, calling on government not to forget them

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Mr. Kolomeitz also shared his concerns with hundreds of other people who received emergency temporary visas in Afghanistan but were unable to extricate themselves on the evacuation flights.

He said more than 1,200 of his clients alone remained stranded in Afghanistan, with their visas also expiring in a month.

Among that cohort is Sam *, a former security guard who worked at the Australian Embassy in Kabul, who received a temporary visa in August.

Despite several attempts to board evacuation flights at Kabul airport, he was unable to leave with his family due to crowds and security threats in the airport queue.

Sam told SBS News he worries about being abandoned.

“We deserve security,” he said.

“We expect the Australian government to clear the way for us to leave safely. “

A group of former interpreters who worked for the Australian Defense Force, some of whom have temporary visas, on Wednesday called on the Australian government not to forget them, staging a secret rally from Kabul.

“We are asking you to save our lives, to save the lives of our families,” said a member of the group in a video obtained by SBS News.

As part of its resettlement announcement, the government is also funding Afghan community support groups, with nearly $ 8 million for mental health and nearly $ 5 million to help newly resettled people find jobs.

But the Afghan Australian Advocacy Network said there was no certainty in the announcement regarding routes to duty for the 5,100 Afghans who remain on temporary protection visas in Australia, or the mention of the priority to family reunification for those whose relatives are trapped in Afghanistan.

* The identity has been withheld for their protection.

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