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Fast tracking and ‘Legacy Caseload’ statistics

This page tracks what has been happening to around 30,000 people who came to Australia by boat and claimed asylum that the previous government referred to as the ‘Legacy Caseload’.

What does this page cover?

This page covers statistics relating to:

  • the refugee status determination process for the Legacy Caseload, including applications for permanent visas (‘Resolution of Status’ visas) as well as temporary protection visas
  • the ‘fast tracking’ process
  • the review of decisions under the ‘fast tracking’ process.

We explain these terms below.

This information is produced from the Legacy Caseload statistics provided by the Department of Home Affairs and by the Immigration Assessment Authority. As this data is separately produced, the latest data is often reported at different dates. The current statistics from the Department of Home Affairs is from the end of April 2024. The latest data from the Immigration Assessment Authority is for 30 June 2024. Other data has been included from answers to question on notice at Senate estimates or from other departmental statistics, as indicated in the graphs.

Who was included in the ‘Legacy Caseload’?

The two main groups in the ‘Legacy Caseload’ included:

  • people who came by boat before 13 August 2012, but whose applications for a protection visa (the visa given to refugees who apply in Australia) had not been finalised by 18 September 2013, when the Liberal and Nationals came into power
  • people who came by boat on or after 13 August 2012, whose visa applications were processed in Australia (and not in Papua New Guinea or Nauru).

As well, the term includes:

  • people seeking asylum who arrived by boat up until 31 December 2013, but were not transferred to Nauru or PNG under the policy of offshore processing
  • a small number of people seeking asylum by boat who have through legislation been included in the fast-tracking process
  • babies born to people in the ‘Legacy Caseload’.

This graph shows the people in the Legacy Caseload by nationality.

What happened to the people in the 'Legacy Caseload'?

A change in the law in December 2014 meant that people in the 'Legacy Casleoad' could no longer apply for a permanent protection visa, but only for a temporary protection visa - either a 'Temporary Protection Visa' (TPV) or a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV). When this visa expired, people could only apply for another ('subsequent') temporary protection visa or, if they held a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa, for a permanent visa other than a protection visa (for example, a spouse visa).

Temporary protection

This temporary status affected every part of their lives, including their ability to get work or study, their access to services, and their ability to recover from their trauma.

Learn more: 'Lives on hold' (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2019)

As well, there was a different process for determining the refugee status of people who came by boat on or after 13 August 2012, called 'fast tracking'. A key feature of this process was that there would be a much more limited form of review of the refugee decisions made by the government through the Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA), which was created especially to review these claims. Under these rules, the IAA would no longer hear directly from people claiming asylum, and would generally be restricted to information before the Department of Immigration.

How Australia determines if a person is a refugee

Changes to temporary protection

On 14 February 2023, the Australian Government announced a new pathway to permanent visas for temporary protection visa holders, with some people able to apply for or be granted a permanent (Resolution of Status or RoS) visa. This will enable those who already hold a temporary protection visa, and those who are granted protection later, to be granted permanent visas.

Changes to processing of TPV and SHEV visas

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