Refugee Council of Australia
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Information on resettling in Australia

How can I apply to come to Australia as a refugee?

There are different ways people can come to Australia as a refugee, but there are many more people waiting to come to Australia than there are places. People come to Australia as refugees by:

  • being referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) from another country
  • being sponsored by a family member, or
  • being sponsored by a member of the Australian community.

Referral by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

UNHCR refers people to be resettled to Australia. To come this way, you must register and be recognised by UNHCR as a refugee. Every year, Australia sets aside a number of places for people to be resettled. UNHCR typically resettles between 4,000-7,000 people a year in Australia.

You can find the UNHCR offices in each country here. Each UNHCR office will have information about its process, including:

To understand who Australia resettles through UNHCR and why, you can look at the chapter on Australia in Australia’s resettlement handbook.

Sponsorship by a family member

If you have a family member who is in Australia, you may be able to come to Australia.

Immediate family members of people on a refugee visa

For people who are ‘immediate family members’ of people who have come to Australia within the last five years on a refugee visa (subclasses 200, 201, 203 and 204), you may be able to be sponsored as a ‘split family’. This does not apply to people who came by boat on or after 13 August 2012. You must be one of:

  • a husband, wife or de facto partner
  • a child or stepchild under 18 years old, or a child dependent upon the person in Australia, or
  • if the person is Australia is under 18 years of age, a parent or step-parent.

Find out more about this way here.

Proposals under the Special Humanitarian Program

If the family member in Australia does not hold a refugee visa (subclass 200, 201, 203 or 204), you may still be able to come under the Special Humanitarian Program. This does not apply if your family member came by boat seeking asylum on or after 13 August 2012. The waiting list under this Program, though, is very long.

There are priorities for who is processed first under the Program. This depends on the kind of visa the person proposing to have you come to Australia (the ‘proposer’) holds, and how close your connection is to that person.
Read for more information on the Special Humanitarian Program.

Sponsorship by someone in Australia

There is a very small number of places (1,000) for people to come to Australia under the Community Support Programme. This is a new program and the Government has not yet announced who you can contact to apply.

The Refugee Council of Australia cannot sponsor anyone to apply to come to Australia.

Join the movement!

We need you to show our government that Australia cares about refugees. Help us by joining the movement so we can protect refugees, not punish them.

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