Afghan community information

RAILS stands in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan. There is an extremely high demand for RAILS services from the Afghan community and we are building our capacity as fast as we can. 

If you live in Queensland and need legal assistance for yourself or your family in relation to the crisis in Afghanistan, please complete ‘Afghanistan referral’ form and email it to afgsupport@rails.org.au. 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 (see RAILS' ‘Refugee Family Reunion’ fact sheet here). 

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 RAILS Fact Sheet 'Visa Options to Australia' and the Department of Home Affairs website.  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. 

 

Legal help

RAILS has had a huge number of requests for help from the Afghan community. We are working through these as thoroughly and quickly as we can.

If you can afford to pay a private lawyer or migration agent, you may get help quicker, but make sure they are experienced in humanitarian visas and are honest about your chances of success.

If you want help from RAILS, you must be unable to pay a private lawyer or migration agent. You can contact us by completing the Afghan Referral Form online here, calling 07 3846 9300 or by email to afgsupport@rails.org.au. Please note that because we already have large numbers of people wanting our help it is likely there will be a long wait.

If you have already requested help from RAILS, we have a record of your contact and we are working through these cases.

In Australia on Visa 449 - Applying for permanent residence

Information in DARI:     VIDEO      FACT SHEET

Information in PASHTO:     VIDEO       FACT SHEET

Information in HAZARAGI:     VIDEO       

Information in ENGLISH:     VIDEO       FACT SHEET

 

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 ensures access to the full range of government services while applying for a permanent visa.

 

How  can I apply for a permanent visa? 

Most Afghans on an Evacuation visa 449 cannot apply for a permanent visa until the Minister ‘lifts the bar to apply'  - this means you can then apply for a permanent visa.

The Department of Home Affairs is starting  to contact groups of 449 visa holders with a notice saying that in about a month after getting the letter you will receive a formal notice from the Minister ‘lifting the bar’.

This formal notice from the Minister ‘lifting the bar’ to allow you to apply, will then give visa holders 7 working days to lodge an application for a permanent visa. 

You should get legal help as soon as you get this first notice.

 

Where can I get legal help to apply?

You should get legal help URGENTLY as soon as you get the first notice from the Department. 

You can get free legal help from RAILS, the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service, if you are in Queensland.  Contact details are outlined later. 

Please only contact RAILS after you get the first notice.  In some cases RAILS will contact you before you get the notice. 

 

When can I apply for a permanent visa?

The Department  will send these notices to different groups over the next few months, so 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, is is done on a Form 842   

The Department have said they will then try to interview applicants around one month after the application is lodged. They say the interviews should not take a huge amount of time unless there are identity or other issues.  The Department interviews will be by phone or online video conference.

 

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. 

RAILS will help lodge this request at your first appointment. However, if you want to do this yourself before you see RAILS, then 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.

Some family members who are overseas and are on 449 visas may be able to be added to a permanent resident application in Australia.

 

Where can I get legal help to apply?

RAILS will try to contact and make appointments with all Queensland 449 visa holders when they are about to get the first Department letter advising of the ‘lifting of the bar’. 

Please wait for RAILS to contact you. However urgently contact RAILS yourself 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.

 

RAILS Contact

RAILS contact for Afghan evacuees: 

 

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: 

www.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-and-support/afghanistan-update/sc449-afghan-evacuees-contact-details-form

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.

 

More questions?

If you have questions please note them down and bring them to your RAILS appointment.

 

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

Bio-data  

Information about identity for a permanent humanitarian visa application by Visa 449 holders. Please fill in as much as you can and bring to your lawyer when you get an appointment  

Main applicant  - Click             Other family members on the application - Click 

 

FOI

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 wait for your RAILS appointment. Get legal advice from RAILS if you are unsure about how to fill in the form.

Part-filled FOI form - Click here

Afghans outside Australia on Evacuation Visa 449

Info in DARI (Click here)

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 and their families, 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

·         other persons with working relationships with the Australian Government.

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.

For the latest Australian Government advice, please visit the Smart Traveller website www.smartraveller.gov.au.

The government says people who choose to leave Afghanistan should contact their nearest Australian mission Offices outside Australia (link) as soon as possible after their departure.

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

Info in DARI (Click here)

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. The government has said this group will be a processing priority.

See RAILS fact sheet about applying under the humanitarian program in English or Dari.

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.

I need RAILS legal assistance for my family in Afghanistan

Info in DARI (click here)

If you live in Queensland and need legal assistance for yourself or your family in relation to the crisis in Afghanistan, please complete ‘Afghanistan referral’ form and email it to afgsupport@rails.org.au. You can also call RAILS on (07) 3846 9300.

RAILS  is a free, confidential service that provides legal help about visas to people in Queensland who are most vulnerable. If you can afford to pay, contact a migration agent (search) or lawyer (search). Ask them for a quote and whether they have experience in these types of cases.

You may also be able to get assistance from your local federal Member of Parliament. Find you local MP here:  https://electorate.aec.gov.au 

Where can I check recent updates?

Info in DARI (Click here)

The  Department of Home Affairs publishes an ‘Afghanistan Update’ on their website and add to this regularly. See  https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-and-support/afghanistan-update.

 

I am not in Queensland, where can I get immigration legal help?

Info in DARI (Click here)

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: refugeelegal@refugeelegal.org.au

  • Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) (VIC): Call (03) 9252 2534 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm or email afghanistantriage@asrc.org.au

  • RACS (NSW): Telephone advice: Monday – Friday 10am – 1pm or 2pm – 4pm on (02) 8355 7227 or email admin@racs.org.au 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): https://rassa.org.au/

  • TRLS (TAS): Call (03) 6169 9473 email info@trls.org.au

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

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?

Info in DARI (Click here)

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.