RAILS stands in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan.
If you live in Queensland and need legal assistance for yourself or your family, please complete RAILS' self-referral form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call RAILS on (07) 3846 9300.
Afghan Australians wanting to bring family to Australia
Applying under the Humanitarian Visa program
Information about making humanitarian applications for Afghan families to settle in Australia can be found in
- RAILS Humanitarian Visas Kit -Lodging a Visa (click here).
- For shorter information see RAILS Fact Sheet (click here)
The Australian government announced on 29 March 2022 that over the next four years there will be 26,500 places for Afghan nationals, under the Humanitarian Visa program and at least 5000 within the family visa program.
Any applications or information given to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) must have accurate details. Any information given to DHA which is different to what was given to the government before, could lead to the sponsor’s visa in Australia being cancelled.
Please be aware that, because of the large number of Offshore Humanitarian visa applications, some may not be successful.
Applying under other visa programs
There may be family visa options for a partner, dependent child, finance or an orphan relative
There may also be options under the Community Support Program, the Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement or under the skilled migration program. See more detail at
These visas are difficult to obtain and it is important to get legal advice first.
After a humanitarian visa application has been lodged
There are many questions after a humanitarian visa application has been lodged.
- See RAILS information kit 'After lodging a humanitarian visa - Afghan cases' for some answers.
In Australia on Visa 449 - Applying for permanent residence
Information in HAZARAGI: VIDEO
How long does an Evacuation Visa 449 last?
Most Afghan nationals evacuated to Australia after the Taliban takeover were given a 3-month temporary evacuation visa 449. This was extended for 12 months by the Minister for Immigration. This was to ensure that visa holders could access the full range of government services while applying for a permanent visa.
How can I apply for a permanent visa?
A Evacuation visa 449 holder cannot apply for a permanent visa until the Minister ‘lifts the bar to apply' - this means you can then apply for a permanent visa.
Once the Minister ‘lifts the bar’ the 449 visa holders will have 7 working days to lodge an application for a permanent visa.
You should URGENTLY seek legal help if you receive a bar lift with 7 working day deadline to lodge a visa application.
Where can I get legal help to apply?
If you hold a 449 visa you should get legal help as soon as possible.
You can get free legal help from RAILS, the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service, if you are in Queensland. Contact details are outlined later.
When can I apply for a permanent visa?
People will get the notice at different times.
What will be the application process?
When the Minister ‘lifts the bar’ you will have 7 working days to lodge a permanent visa application. If this is a humanitarian visa application, it is done on a Form 842
The Department may interview the applicants after the application is lodged.
What if I already applied for a permanent visa before entering Australia?
Some people on 449 visas may have already lodged a valid humanitarian or other permanent visa application before coming to Australia. If this is the case you might not have to wait for a Department letter to ‘lift the bar’.
If this is your particular situation, then you should get urgent legal advice about what is the correct process towards a permanent visa.
What can I do now? Bio-data
Before the notification from the Department about ‘lifting the bar’ you can start to get ready to make your applications for a permanent visa.
An important part is to prepare ‘bio-data’ for all applicants - that is details of identity, family, education, work and where you’ve lived. You can find these questions on Form 842 which you can access online.
RAILS has documents online to show what bio-data is required - for the main applicant (click here) and for the other family members on the application (click here) - see the Bio-data and FOI tab at FOI www.rails.org.au/education/afghan-community-info -
What can I do now? FOI request
It is useful to know what information the Department of Home Affairs has about your case. A copy of your file can be obtained by lodging a “Freedom of Information’ (FOI) request.
You can get someone to help you apply online on a Form 424A. Keep a copy of the form and of the email lodging it.
RAILS has a document online to help you with the FOI request - Click here. See the Bio data and FOI tab at www.rails.org.au/education/afghan-community-info
What about proving identity?
The Department of Home Affairs will need to be satisfied of the identity of you and your family. Try to collect any identity documents now, so that you can provide these with your application.
If you don’t have all your identity documents, then the reasons for this should be explained by your lawyer in the application. If you don’t have identity documents you should try to gather other information that shows your identity such as employment records, online profiles, resume/work history.
All information must be true
Do not provide non-genuine documents.
Do not listen if there are rumours in the community saying you should get false documents or say certain things in your interview. Listen to the advice from your lawyer. If any false or inaccurate documents are lodged there is a risk your visa will be cancelled or refused.
The Character Test
An important part of any permanent visa application is the ‘Character test’.
The Department of Home Affairs can refuse or cancel a visa application if they think a person does not pass the ‘character test’. They look at whether someone has done any criminal or general conduct that might cause harm or risk to people in Australia. Some examples are crimes of violence, theft or drugs.
Family violence and the ‘Character test’
The government also takes a strong stand against family violence when considering the ‘Character test’.
In Australian law family violence is not only physical violence. It is also any actions, or threats, made against you, your family, your property and even your pets, that make you fear for your or your family’s safety and wellbeing.
Family violence happens in all different cultures and groups. It is mainly by men trying to dominate women. Australian law has grown stronger against family violence and requires partners to negotiate their relationship based on equal respect and non-violence.
Will a visa be refused or cancelled because of ‘Character’?
In deciding whether to refuse a visa because of character, the government looks at various factors.
In cases of family violence for example, this includes how serious any violence is, and whether the abuser has come to accept responsibility, and understands the effect of the violence and is taking steps to change. There are supports to help people keep safe from family violence and to help abusers try to stop their violence.
What if my family are overseas?
People on Evacuation 449 visas cannot sponsor other family members to Australia until they get a permanent resident visa.
Where can I get legal help to apply?
You can get legal help from us if you are in one of these groups:
- You get a notification from DHA about the Minister ‘lifting the bar’ to allow you to apply for a permanent visa.
- You are an under 18 year old on a 449 Visa in Australia without your parents (an unaccompanied minors)
- You are a 449 Visa holder and have experienced family violence in Australia.
Very important: Advise if you change contact details
It is very important that visa holders advise the Department of Home Affairs of any change of contact details or address. This is done online at the Department’s ‘Afghanistan Update’ website page:
If you don’t advise them then you may miss the notice to apply for a permanent visa.
It is also very important to advise your Settlement Service case manager if you change contact details.
Finding help if distressed
These processes can be very stressful and support is available for those who feel very distressed.
You can contact:
- Your Multicultural Australia case manager
- QPASTT - 3391 6677
- Multicultural Connect - 1300 079 020
- Lifeline - 13 11 14 (crisis support anytime) “
Bio-data and FOI - for permanent visa application
Information about identity for a permanent humanitarian visa application by Visa 449 holders. Please fill in as much as you can and bring to RAILS for advice.
Freedom of Information request form to find out what information the Department of Home Affairs already has about your case. Get someone to help you complete and send the form or get legal advice from RAILS if you are unsure about how to fill in the form.
Afghans outside Australia on Evacuation Visa 449
Will offshore Visa 449’s be extended?
Some people on subclass 449 visas remain in Afghanistan or in neighbouring countries. These visas expire 3 months after they were first granted.
The government has said subclass 449 visas granted to Afghans who supported Australia’s mission in Afghanistan, who have not yet arrived in Australia, will be extended on an ongoing basis. This includes subclass 449 holders who are:
· certified ‘Locally Engaged Employees’ of the Department of Defence, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Australian Federal Police, and
- member of their family unit.
Subclass 449 holders that meet the rules for extension will be notified, where possible, via email.
Travel out of Afghanistan
The Australian government advise that travel throughout Afghanistan remains extremely dangerous and urges all people remaining in Afghanistan to prioritise their safety. People remaining in Afghanistan must carefully consider the risks should they attempt to leave by any route.
Some land borders are closed to travellers seeking to cross from Afghanistan and some border crossing points that are open are at risk of terrorist attack. Border crossings may be closed by authorities without notice.
All subclass 449 visa holders will need to have their biometrics collected before travelling to Australia.
Afghans outside Australia who don’t get their Visa 449 extended
The government has said that Visa 449 holders who are outside Australia and who do not meet the criteria to get an extension of their 449 visa, are able to apply for a visa under Australia’s Humanitarian Program.
If people got a letter during the evacuation period about a 449 visa but didn’t actually get an evacuation visa, these people will also have to apply under the normal offshore humanitarian program.
Where can I check recent updates?
I am not in Queensland, where can I get immigration legal help?
Help in other States of Australia
Legal advice in other States of Australia is available from.
- Refugee Legal (VIC) Call (03) 9413 0166 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday Email:
- Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) (VIC): Call Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm or email
- RACS (NSW): Telephone advice: Monday – Friday 10am – 1pm or 2pm – 4pm on (02) 8355 7227 or email with your name and phone number and they will call you back
- IARC (NSW): Call (02) 8234 0700
- Circle Green (WA): Call (08) 6148 3636
- RASSA (SA):
- TRLS (TAS): Call (03) 6169 9473 email
A list of legal assistance providers in each State funded under the government’s “Settlement Support Package’ will be put on the DHA website.
Help for people in Afghanistan
Help for people in Afghanistan
A humanitarian helpline that connects Afghans (IDPs, returnees) and refugees affected by conflict and natural disaster with information on assistance.
Contact the Awaaz Afghanistan hotline by calling 410 Open seven days a week | Female and male agents available | Agents speak Dari, Pashto, Urdu,
English, and more.
The UNHCR Afghanistan ‘HELP’ website page provides information to individuals seeking information or support inside Afghanistan.
I'm feeling very distressed, where can I get help?
If you are finding it hard to cope with the events in Afghanistan and are stressed or worried about your own and your family's safety, please reach our for help from trusted people in your community or to one of these confidential services:
The information on this page is general legal information only, not professional legal advice about particular matters. See a migration lawyer or registered migration agent for specific legal advice about your circumstances.