RCOA continues to hear from former refugees about the hardships they face in applying for family reunion. Many have spoken about waiting years only to be rejected for an administrative reason. Others have expressed distress about the extensive delays they have faced in bringing their family members to Australia. The requirements for family members to undergo interviews and health checks is often impossible for family members who are still in conflict areas or are unable to travel.
Currently, the partner visa (subclass 309) visa takes over 20 months for an application to be processed. A dependent child (subclass 445) takes over eight months. An orphan relative visa takes over three and a half years. For refugee communities, family members are often still in conflict areas and facing substantial persecution and discrimination.
Requiring a family to wait this long often places people at severe risk of harm or death, or forces people to flee again to other countries of asylum. To wait over three and half years to bring an orphaned family member to Australia is unjustified, especially as that child may have no other means of support or care.
Refugee communities who apply for family reunion through the Family Stream of the Migration Program should be given priority, recognising the often dangerous situation many family members are in.