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. 

Afghan Australians wanting to bring family to Australia

Applying under the Humanitarian Visa program

Information about making humanitarian applications for family to settle in Australia can be found in RAILS Fact Sheet here (available in English and Dari).

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, many may not be successful.   

Applying under the Family Visa program

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 limited possibilities for visas under Australia’s skilled migration program.

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.

Afghans in Australia on Evacuation Visa 449

How long does an Evacuation Visa 449 last?

Afghan nationals evacuated to Australia have had their 3-month temporary evacuation visas (Visa 449) extended for 12 months by the Minister for Immigration. This will ensure access to the full range of government services while applying for a permanent visa.

If I already have applied for a permanent visa before entering Australia

Some people on evacuation visas may have already lodged a valid humanitarian or other permanent visa application before coming to Australia. If this is the case then the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will contact you about the processing. You will not have to wait for a DHA letter to ‘lift the bar’ (see below) as you already have an application that can start to be processed. 

You should get legal advice to check if all the details on your permanent visa application are correct and all family members are included.

When can I apply for a permanent visa?

Most people on Evacuation visas cannot apply for a permanent visa until the Minister ‘lifts the bar’. In early 2022, the DHA will start to contact groups of Evacuee visa holders saying that in one month after that, they will receive a formal notice from the Minister ‘lifting the bar’. You should get legal help when you get this first notice (see ‘Where can I get legal help’ below).

This formal notice from the Minister will then give Evacuation visa holders 7 working days to lodge an application for a permanent visa.

DHA will process these in groups so you will be contacted at different times. The processing will start in January 2022.

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, this must be done on a Form 842 which you can access online here.

DHA say they will try to interview 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.  DHA will interview applicants by phone or online video conference.

What can I do now?

Before the notification from DHA, 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 here. RAILS will provide a separate template with these questions.

If possible, get a record of any of your details that have already been provided to DHA. This can be done on a Form 424A ‘Freedom of Information’ request. Your lawyer can help you with this.

What about proving identity?

DHA will want 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 identity documents then the reasons for this should be explained to DHA 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 to advice or rumours saying that you should get  false documents. If any false or inaccurate documents are lodged there is a risk your visa will be cancelled or refused. 

The Character Test

DHA might refuse or cancel a permanent visa if they think a person does not pass the 'character test'. They look at any criminal or general conduct that might cause harm or risk to people in Australia. For example, the Government is strongly against violence in the home. A person who commits violence in their home, may have their visa application cancelled or refused. 

Advise DHA if you change contact details

It is very important that visa holders advise DHA of any change of contact details or address.  This is done by email to 929@homeaffairs.gov.au on a DHA Form 929 accessed online here.

Your family overseas

People on Evacuation visas cannot sponsor other family members to Australia until they get a permanent residence visa.

However close family members overseas could apply by themselves for a humanitarian visa or get another  Australian  citizen, permanent resident or organisation to propose them for a humanitarian visa, and note that they have a family relationship to the evacuation visa holder who is on a pathway to a permanent visa.

Note that many applications for humanitarian visas to Australia fail.  Legal advice before lodging is very important.

Where can I get legal help to apply

There are many Evacuees needing legal assistance. It is very likely that RAILS will be funded by the Commonwealth government to assist evacuees to lodge their permanent visa applications.  If you have a 449 Visa and are in Queensland please contact RAILS if you are in one of these groups:

  • If you get the notification from DHA about the Minister ‘lifting the bar’ to allow you to apply for a permanent visa.

  • If you are an under 18 on a Visa 449 in Australia without your parents (unaccompanied minors)

  • If you are a Visa 449 holder and have experienced family violence in Australia.

​​​​RAILS is closed from midday 24th December until 10th January 2022. If you receive a notification from DHA about the Minister 'lifting the bar' to allow you to apply for a permanent visa before 10th January, please send an email to RAILS and we will contact you as a priority when we re-open.  

  • Email: afgsupport@rails.org.au
  • Call: (07) 3846 9300

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 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

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

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?

TheDepartment 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.

The information above comes from the law, RAILS' discussions with government and the DHA ‘Afghanistan Update.’

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: 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?

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 legal information only, not legal advice. See a migration lawyer or registered migration agent for specific legal advice about your circumstances.