[Recent news updated on 20/04/2022]
Ukrain Visa Support
In the short term, many visitor visas are being granted for Ukranian's
Moreover, Australia is prioritizing Ukrainians visa applications.
Work Visa Lawyers have successfully helped some Ukrainians.
Scott Morrison announces visas for Ukrainians, $50 million in military and humanitarian aid
Australia has announced their support package to Ukrainians who are affected by the war of Russia's invasion. Along with the support, they will provided a prioritized pathway for Ukrainians in remporary humanitarian visas with 3 year validity and extra $50 million in military and humanitarian support.
With this visa, Ukrainians will be able to work, study and access Medicare. There are approximately 5,000 Ukrainians who have been granted visas to travel to Australia including skilled visa 491/190, family reunion visas, as well as student and Tourist visa
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia from 24 February 2022 has raised immediate questions about how Australia can assist in terms of visas and immigration.
What has the Australian Government has announced about visas for Ukrainians?
Australian leaders have promised to open their doors to Ukrainian refugees and more visa options.
We strongly believe that the Australian government should put Ukrainians on top priority for visa applications.
Australian Government announcement so far and what more can be done?
This is a devastating time for the Ukrainian-Australian community, many of which have family and friends still in Ukraine.
The best support from the immigration Department now is to accelerate the conclusion of Ukrainian visa applications to Australia as instructed by Minister of Immigration Alex Hawke.
Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and leaders are considering various options for support through Australia’s humanitarian, skilled visas from offshore with the high prioritized process (SC 190 or 491), Student Visa 500, and other visa programs.
“The Australian Government remains committing to working in partnership with the Ukrainian-Australian community during this evolving situation.” Said The Hon Alex Hawke MP
Community leaders are urging for a fast track for all Ukrainians in the system residing in the hot zone.
Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has reaffirmed Australia’s unwavering support and will stand firm with Ukraine.
Morrison said all outstanding visa applications from Ukrainian nationals in Australia had been processed, and the government was processing as a top priority about 100 applications from Ukrainians daily.
“They’re visa applications across the entire migration program – for temporary visas on skills, education visas, and family reunion visas. They’re getting the stamp, and they’ll be able to come to Australia.” Morrison said
What about Evacuee or Refugee or Humanitarian Visas?
In the short term, Australia could offer a short-term Evacuation visa Subclass 449 - Humanitarian Stay (Temporary), for evacuation and stay in Australia.
This is the same as what was done for the Afghanistan evacuation in 2021.
There are some significant differences to Afghanistan and the Australian Governments last-minute evacuation efforts. There the Taliban were in power.
In Ukraine, Ukrainians are fighting for their country’s democratic independence.
So hopefully, some of those Ukrainians that do come to Australia may be in a position to choose to return. With the Taliban in Afghanistan, the option of returning is not there!
What is the likely number of those to be displaced?
As of 11 March 2022, according to the Operational Data Portal from the UNHCR, some 2,504,893 Ukrainians had crossed borders to leave Ukraine since 24 February 2022.
At a special UN Security Council meeting convened, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Ukrainian refugees have already escaped to neighboring countries in Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, and even Russia.
“Unless there is an immediate halt to conflict, Ukrainians will continue to flee. “We are currently planning…for up to four million refugees in the coming days and weeks,” Grandi said.
Calls for Increases to Australia’s Humanitarian visa intake
Australian Immigration Program has been lowering its humanitarian intake over the last two years. Total for skilled and family is down by 20,000 on three years ago.
It is cautioned that Australia needs to expand its humanitarian intake to manage the asylum offered to Ukrainian citizens fleeing the conflict zone.
This was exacerbated by cuts to the humanitarian program in 2020 that reduced it by 5000 places to 13,750 spots each year.
3,000 places have been allocated for Afghans fleeing the fall of Kabul, which limits the ability of Australia to respond to the crisis in Ukraine.
On Monday, the Law Council of Australia called on the federal government to support international efforts to accommodate refugees leaving Ukraine. It also calls on the Government to implement pathways to permanent protection visas and arrangements for Ukrainian asylum seekers and refugees currently in Australia. Justin Stewart-Rattray, President, Law Society of South Australia, talks about the main focuses of the Australian government to support Ukrainians on the Immigration side:
- Prioritize family reunification when processing humanitarian visa applications from Ukrainian nationals.
- Immediately increase the ceiling of 13,750 places allocated under the Humanitarian Program for the 2021-22 financial year.
- Accommodation for refugees is also critical to think of now; we must arrange people ready to support and a place for them to stay.
Comments from Immigration Lawyer Chris Johnston:
In the Immigration policy area, the Federal Government and the DHA have a track record of making announcements without and failing to follow through on announcements (eg. the Agricultural Visa).
The Federal Government and the DHA need to coordinate with State Governments and community organizations to offer support to Ukrainians.
Let’s hope that the Federal Government and the DHA can do more for Ukraine!