Two changes to Australian Protection visa processing including considering complementary protection claims as part of the Protection Visa assessment process and a single statutory Protection Visa process for both boat and air arrivals will take effect from March 24, 2012, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIBP) announced on March 19.
The current onshore arrangements for a Protection Visa application and independent merits review through the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) will apply to all new arrivals from March 24, 2012, regardless of their mode of arrival in Australia. In addition, all arrivals that travel to Australia by boat and have not yet had a protection assessment interview will also move into the statutory process.
Due to the transition of irregular maritime arrivals into the statutory Protection Visa process, claims by these arrivals will be considered in the statutory Protection Visa process with merits review by the RRT. Accordingly, the protection obligation assessment process for irregular maritime arrivals will be consistent with that of onshore Protection Visa applicants.
Irregular maritime arrivals who arrived prior to March 24, 2012 will be transitioned to the Protection Visa process depending on their stage of processing.
According to the DIBP's announcement, from March 24, 2012 there will be a new additional basis for the grant of a Protection Visa. The assessment of whether a person is eligible for protection by Australia will include an assessment of the claims under the "1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees" and its 1967 Protocol (the Refugees Convention) and an assessment of their complementary protection claims. Both assessments will be part of the processing of a person's application for a Protection Visa.