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There is some truth to this myth. However, this is not because asylum seekers are trying to rort the system or ‘jump the queue’. Rather, it is the result of an Australian Government policy which could easily be changed.

Australia’s refugee and humanitarian program has two parts – the ‘onshore’ part, for people who or people who apply for refugee status after arriving in Australia; and the ‘offshore’ part, through which Australia resettles recognised refugees and other people in need of protection and assistance from overseas. The ‘onshore’ part exists because Australia is obliged to accept refugees under the Refugee Convention. The ‘offshore’ part exists because Australia voluntarily chooses to resettle refugees.

Australia sets an annual number for the whole program, both ‘offshore’ and ‘onshore’. This means that every time an asylum seeker is recognised as a refugee and granted a visa, a place is deducted from the offshore program.

The idea that there is a resettlement “queue” which onshore applicants are ‘jumping’ is created by a policy which could easily be changed. No other country in the world links its onshore and offshore programs in this way and Australia did not do this prior to 1996.