After years of waiting, the first batch of thousands of temporary visa holders have finally been granted permanent visas in Australia. Among them are at least 20 Tamil refugees who have been approved for permanent protection in the past week, according to refugee advocate Wicki Wickiramasingham.
This development comes after the Federal Government announced a permanent visa pathway for 19,000 Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) or Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) holders in February. Many of these visa holders had been living in limbo in Melbourne’s South East for up to 15 years, awaiting a resolution to their status.
Mr. Wickiramasingham expressed joy on behalf of the first 20 approvals, stating that they can now invite their wives, children, and families to join them in Australia for the first time. He estimated that out of the 19,000 visa holders, approximately 3,000 were Tamil refugees.
Under the new visas, these refugees will be allowed to live, work, and study in Australia permanently. They will also have access to Centrelink and Medicare, be able to travel internationally, and sponsor eligible family members to become permanent residents in Australia.
Mr. Wickiramasingham pledged to continue fighting for the remaining 12,000 temporary visa holders who were not covered by the announcement. Many of them had been appealing their cases in court for up to five years, seeking a resolution to their uncertain status.
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles, who announced the move, emphasized that all TPV and SHEV holders were found to be refugees and were owed Australia’s protection. He highlighted that these visa holders contribute to the Australian economy by working, paying taxes, starting businesses, and employing Australians, often in rural and regional areas. However, without permanent visas, they have been unable to secure loans to buy houses, build businesses, or pursue further education.
Minister Giles added, “It makes no sense – economically or socially – to keep them in limbo.” The granting of permanent visas to the first batch of temporary visa holders brings hope to thousands who have been waiting for a resolution to their status for years, and marks a significant step towards their integration and inclusion in Australian society.