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Documentation problems for asylum seekers and refugees from Afghanistan

Expert opinion from Ali Reza Yunespour, Melbourne University

Updated 4 October 2022.

Establishing the identity of a person seeking asylum or a refugee is a crucial element of Australia’s temporary and permanent residency visa and citizenship processes. To date, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has used three different methods to verify the identity of refugees and asylum seekers: biometric data, life narratives and documentation from countries of origin and transit countries. Amongst these methods, documentation plays a significant role in making a claim for protection, and in subsequent applications for family reunion and citizenship. Inconsistencies in official documentation and fraudulent documentation can lead to rejections of claims that should be accepted on their merits. In some cases, inconsistencies related to identity documents supporting applications for citizenship by a permanent resident with a refugee background have led to their permanent visa being cancelled, where there are inconsistencies between their original claim for asylum and the application for citizenship.

This paper examines the historical and systemic issues that asylum seekers and refugees from Afghanistan, most of whom are Hazaras, have faced in obtaining Tazkera (National Identity Card) and other documents in Afghanistan or in transit countries such as Iran and Pakistan. It seeks to analyse the following questions:

  • Why some asylum seekers and refugees from Afghanistan, who have arrived by boats between 1999 and 2013, did not have Tazkera or other identity documents at the time of their arrivals in Australia?
  • How reliable is a hand-written Afghan Tazkera?
  • What are the prospects and challenges of Absentee Tazkera and e-Tazkera?

Download the paper here

Updated 4 October 2022.

About the Author

Ali Reza Yunespour works as Academic Internships Coordinator in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. His PhD thesis examines the political economy of Afghanistan’s higher education; and his research interests are education politics in fragile contexts and asylum seeker and refugee issues in Australia. Ali Reza has been advocating for refugee and asylum seeker rights through his current and previous roles with Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia (CRSA), Academics for Refugees, and Auburn Diversity Services Inc. (ADSI). He is also a member of the newly formed Advisory Panel on Australia’s Resettlement of Afghan Nationals that reports to Australian Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Aff​airs. Ali Reza has also extensive community development experience in Afghanistan, where he helped around 8,000 students in 22 rural schools in Afghanistan through his volunteer work with Indigo Foundation Australia. Previously, Ali Reza has worked in DFAT and as a lecturer at American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. He was a People of Australia Ambassador in 2012 and 2013 and was awarded the National Volunteer Award for his works with refugees and migrants in Australia and his contributions to indigo foundation’s education programs in Afghanistan. Ali Reza arrived as a refugee in Australia in 2005.

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