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In December 2014, the Australian Government changed the way it determined the refugee claims of people who came by boat. The Australian Government calls this new process ‘fast tracking‘. This affects people who came by boat on or after 13 August 2012.

There are also people who came before 13 August 2012, but did not have their protection visa application finalised by 18 September 2013. These people are assessed under the old process. The two groups are referred to by the Department as the ‘Legacy Caseload’.

This post has been updated from a post published on 5 December 2017, three years after the ‘fast-track’ process was The statistics are from the latest Department’s statistics on 4 January 2018.

The processing of applications

By 4 January 2018, there were 16,069 applications still on hand with the Department, still more than the 14,834 applications finalised by the Department. Most of those applications still with the Department are fast-track applications, but 783 people in the non-fast-track category – people who came to Australia before 13 August 2012 – were still waiting in limbo, more than five years later.

The big story in the past six months has been the rapid decline of the numbers of applications not yet lodged. This was primarily due to the heroic efforts of legal representatives, as the Minister announced that any applications not lodged by 1 October 2017 would be barred by law. The Department’s current statistics no longer include any applications not lodged as a result (which is why the chart records zero applications). There were, however, 71 people who did not meet this deadline who can no longer apply for asylum.

Are they being recognised as refugees?

The percent of people being processed under the fast-track system has remained relatively steady at around 70-75%. The percent of unsuccessful claims being processed under the non-fast-track system has been much lower (between 33-39%), until late in 2017 when the percent being recognised suddenly leapt to around 65%.

Fast track applications

The SHEV is now much more popular with fast track applicants than the temporary protection visa, with 87% of all applications still at hand being SHEV applications.

There were still 15,286 applications before the Department as at 4 January 2018, compared to the 9,398 cases finalised by the Department.

Non-fast track applicants

For those who came before 12 August 2012 (who are not subject to fast-tracking, but who are still only able to apply for temporary protection visas),  there are many more applications for a temporary protection visa (TPV) than a Safe Hvaen Enterprise Visa (SHEV). Of the cases still on hand, about 46% are for TPVs, and over 93% of those applications finalised are for TPVs.

Where do those still waiting live?

Most of those who are still waiting for decisions live in Victoria (with 7,060 people) and NSW (6,205). Perhaps not surprisingly, there are relatively few in the ACT (101), NT (65), and Tasmania (34).

Where are they from?

The statistics include the citizenship of those who are still in the process of applying for protection.  Most commonly, people come from Iran, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

Are they in detention?

Nearly all applicants are currently residing within the community, with most of them currently on Bridging Visa E.

115 applicants are in immigration detention. Another 38 are subject to a residence determination.