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Information for people fleeing Ukraine

Changes for people from Ukraine

From 31 July 2022, people who have fled Ukraine and come to Australia are no longer able to apply for a Temporary Humanitarian Concern visa. Instead, those who missed out on the offer, or arrived in Australia after 31 July, will be able to apply for a one-year Bridging Visa E when their 90-day Visitor Visa runs out, or, if they fear persecution in Ukraine, an onshore Permanent Protection Visa (PPV). However, unlike the Temporary Humanitarian Concern visa, people on a bridging visa, including those awaiting an outcome on a PPV, will not have access to settlement services or income support.

This brief provides information for Ukrainians based on their current visa status.
Ukraine visas brief
Size : 98.5 kB Format : PDF

Those who accepted the offer of a Temporary Humanitarian Concern Visa prior to 31 July 2022

For individuals who have completed the form accepting the offer for temporary stay from the Australian Government (prior to 31 July 2022), the Department of Home Affairs will continue to process these visas. You do not need to do anything further until the Department contacts you.

The first step in receiving a Temporary Humanitarian Concern visa is to be granted a Subclass 449 visa. While the 449 visa will be granted for a six-month period, the Department intends to transition Ukrainian nationals to a subclass 786 visa as soon as possible, pending health checks, where required.

Ukrainian nationals on subclass 449 visas:

  • have full work rights and are eligible to receive Centrelink Special Benefit payments.
  • may be eligible for free English language tuition under the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP).
  • can receive full support under the Government funded Humanitarian Settlement Program.

Subclass 449 holders are not eligible to access Medicare.

Medical appointment

Once you have been granted a subclass 449 visa, the Department will advise you if you need to complete any health examinations as part of processing the subclass 786 visa, which are legally required under the Migration Regulations 1994.

People from Ukraine are required to pay for the costs of the health examinations themselves.

Following the grant of a subclass 786 visa

The subclass 786 visa will be granted for a three year period. During this time, holders of this visa have:

  • work rights
  • study rights (but not access to Commonwealth Support Places or the Higher Education Loan Program)
  • access to Medicare
  • access to Centrelink Special Benefits
  • access to the Humanitarian Settlement Program
  • school
  • childcare subsidies

Those who arrived after 31 July 2022 or missed the deadline

Ukrainian nationals who have arrived on a temporary visa and are unable to access any further visa options or cannot return to Ukraine, may apply for a Bridging Visa E (subclass 050) visa or a Protection (subclass 866) visa. Ukrainians and their families who wish to extend their stay in Australia can also continue to access other visa pathways, including the skilled, family, student and visitor visa programs.

People on a Visitor Visa (subclass 600) do not have access work, Medicare, Centrelink or settlement services.

Protection (subclass 866) visa

Ukrainians and their family members who fear harm if they were to return to Ukraine can apply for a Protection (subclass 866). The Protection visa is a permanent visa that, if granted, lets the holder stay in Australia indefinitely. The criteria for a Protection visa is narrow. Applications would need to demonstrate they fear persecution or other harm if returned to Ukraine. They would also need to show that there is no place in Ukraine which is safe for them to return to.

The current processing timelines for this visa is over two years at the Department, and over six years for an outcome of an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

If a person is granted a Protection visa, they become a permanent resident and have access to government services on par with other Australian citizens.

Persons who apply for a Protection visa while they hold a substantive visa are eligible to be granted a Bridging (subclass 010) visa A (BVA) while their application is assessed. Protection visa applicants holding a BVA may apply for work rights in Australia, Medicare, publicly funded schooling for children, and access to free translating and interpreting services.

However, people waiting on a BVA do not have access to Centrelink or settlement services.

Bridging E (subclass 050) visa (BVE)

Ukrainians and their family members who are unable to access any visa options and become unlawful in Australia, and cannot return to Ukraine, can apply for a BVE. A BVE is a short term bridging visa that allows eligible individuals to stay in Australia lawfully while they seek to resolve their immigration status by obtaining a substantive visa or while they make arrangements to depart Australia. In order to apply for a BVE, a person must not hold any other visa (i.e. they must be an unlawful non-citizen) or already hold a BVE. There is no application fee. We understand that a BVE will be granted for 12 months.

People on a BVE have access to full work rights, Medicare, publicly funded schooling for children, and access to free translating and interpreting services.

However, they do not have access to Centrelink or settlement services.

Read more

This factsheet is published by Refugee Advice & Casework Service (RACS). It was updated in February 2023.

This explains the process for Ukrainians seeking protection in Australia.

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