Refugee Council of Australia
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Statistics on people seeking asylum in the community

Delays and what happens to them

The gap between grants and lodgements

The low number of visas granted does not mean that all of the other applications have been refused. Under changes to the law made in 2014, the Minister for Immigration can now place a ‘cap’ on protection visas issued to refugees in any year.

This ‘cap’ sets a limit on the number of visas that can be granted. This means that, even if a person is recognised as a refugee in Australia, they cannot be granted a visa until the following year. This does not apply to temporary protection visas, but affects people seeking asylum by plane.

Using this power, the Minister has set a number each year for the number of visas that can be granted to people claiming asylum by plane, and those who are resettled from overseas.

Delays in processing

This means people seeking asylum are now waiting several years for a decision to be made on their case. The monthly statistics reveal that over 30,000 people are still waiting for decisions. Even more people are still in the country awaiting deportation after a negative decision.

This graph shows the number of cases onhand for permanent protection visas by financial year over a longer time period. Note that, after 2013, permanent protection visas were no longer available to people who arrived by sea.

This graph shows the average processing times for permanent protection visas.

This is made worse by the fact that times for decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which reviews the Department's decisions, have significantly increased. In 2020-21 financial year, only 34% of refugee cases were finalised by the Tribunal within a year, with the median time for decision being 104 weeks.

Read more about the challenges faced by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Review of permanent protection decisions

Under current policy, those who are arrive by plane can seek permanent protection, and have a right to review by an administrative tribunal as well as judicial review by a court. Those who have come by boat have very limited review rights, under the 'fast tracking' policy introduced by the current government.

Fast-tracking and Legacy Caseload statistics

This graph shows the number of successful judicial review of permanent protection visas over the past five years, by court.

This graph shows that most unresolved applications are at the Federal Circuit Court.

What happens while they are seeking asylum?

While people are waiting, they usually live in the community on the same conditions as the visa on which they came to Australia.

For international students and people on tourist visas, this means that people do not have access to Medicare, and may not have the right to work in Australia. Their lack of permanent status also creates many other problems, such as difficulty accessing women's refuges.

People seeking asylum by plane may be able to access limited support under the Status Resolution Support Services scheme.

Learn more: Women on temporary visas experiencing violence

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