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How to apply for a Protection visa in Australia

Sharing Li
Sharing Li
Australian Migration Agent
June 30, 2024
minute read

The Protection visa (subclass 866) is a type of visa that can be granted to applicants who Australia recognises as unwilling or unable to return to their home country as a result of a well-founded fear of persecution. These visas provide applicants with refuge and safety in alignment with Australia’s complementary protection criteria or where Australia’s protection obligations have otherwise been engaged (i.e. where someone is deemed to be a refugee). Applicants for Protection visas are assessed by the Department of Home Affairs (a Department of the Australian Government) as to whether their circumstances engage Australia’s protection obligations. For refugees seeking asylum that receive a Protection visa, they are permitted to live and work in Australia indefinitely as they are granted permanent residency.

How do you know if you are eligible for a Protection visa?

The eligibility criteria for a Protection visa arises out of Australia’s protection obligations under international law. These criteria are assessed by the Department of Home Affairs on a case-by-case basis. While this blog post summarises the process for applying for a Protection visa (subclass 866), for those applicants who are unsure of their eligibility or need guidance in making an application, an Australian Migration Agent is able to provide assistance at any stage in the application process.

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Protection visa requirements

Most importantly, In order to receive a Protection visa, applicants must be a refugee or have engaged Australia’s complementary protection criteria. 

To be deemed to be a refugee, applicants must meet the definition of ‘refugee’ as outlined in the Migration Act (the legislation that regulates Australian immigration law) as this has certain legal criteria that must be fulfilled. Under this Act, refugees are individuals who are outside their country of nationality or former habitual residence and owe a well-founded fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. A well-founded fear of persecution must involve the risk of serious harm to the person (e.g. detainment, the death penalty, torture, cruel treatment) and must be the result of systematic and discriminatory conduct. The reason that the applicant is fleeing the company must also be an essential and significant reason motivating them to do so.

Additionally, there are also other criteria that must be met in order to be eligible for a Protection visa (subclass 866):

  • Must have arrived in Australia legally on another valid visa. Applicants should be aware that a Protection visa (subclass 866) will not be granted to those who are deemed to be an unauthorised maritime arrival 
  • Must meet Australia’s identity requirements
  • Must not be barred from lodging a permanent Protection visa application due to a visa refusal or visa cancellation since the last time the applicant arrived in Australia
  • Must not have held a Temporary Protection visa (subclass 785), Temporary Safe Haven visa (subclass 449), Temporary (Humanitarian Concern) visa (subclass 786) or Safe Haven Enterprise visa (subclass 790).
  • Must meet Australia’s security requirements
  • Must meet Australia’s health requirements
  • Must sign the Australian values statement

If applicants are unsure of their eligibility for a Protection visa, want specific advice or need personalised guidance, contact an Australian Migration Agent today.

Protection visa application

Protection visa (subclass 866) applications occur over multiple stages. Applicants should be aware that it is important to understand how this process operates and what the Department of Home Affairs requires given that this can directly affect the quality of the application lodged. 

Firstly, it is important that applicants first consider whether they meet the eligibility criteria and Protection visa requirements set by the Department in relation to Protection visas. Following this, there are an extensive amount of required documents and supporting evidence that applicants are required to submit alongside a completed application, so applicants should collate these supporting documents prior to beginning to lodge their application. Once the visa application form has been completed and the documents have been collected and compiled, applicants should lodge their Protection visa application online through the Department’s official website. Visa applicants will also be required to pay an application fee of $45.

Applicants should be aware that if an application which is incomplete, inaccurate or incorrect is lodged, this will directly affect how long an application takes to process. This is because the Department will need to communicate with applicants to correct any mistakes first before they are able to make a decision. Therefore, it is important that applicants prepare their applications diligently, accurately and in alignment with the Department’s expectations.

An Australian Migration Agent is fully aware of the Department’s processes and experienced in assisting applicants in creating, compiling and lodging their Protection visa applications. Applicants who require additional guidance or assistance are encouraged to contact us regardless of what part of the process they are up to.

What happens after I apply?

Once an application has been successfully lodged with the Department, the Department will provide the applicant with an acknowledgement letter. This acknowledgement letter may direct applicants to undergo further health examinations, biometric data collection or attend an interview. Following these requirements being fulfilled, the Department will then finalise Protection visa applications. Therefore, applicants are recommended to promptly and proactively comply with any requests from the Department following their application lodgement as this can affect the protection visa rocessing time for their application.

If applicants during this period become aware of any mistakes or insufficiencies in their application, applicants should contact the Department as soon as possible and provide them with the updated and correct information.

Given how long it can take for a Protection visa application to be processed, applicants may worry about the validity of their original Australian visa. However, applicants should note that the Department may grant a bridging visa to applicants while their application is being processed. This is because applicants must remain lawfully in Australia while their Protection visa (subclass 866) is being decided upon.

Where applicants decide that they would like to add family members to their application, they are permitted to do so at any stage prior to their application being decided upon. This may  include a dependent child (or dependent children), a de facto partner, a spouse or any dependent relatives who is a part of the same family unit. Applicants should note that these family members do need to be deemed eligible family members for a Protection visa.

Once the Department has made an assessment of the applicant’s protection claims, they will communicate the outcome of the Protection visa application. If successful, applicants will be granted a permanent visa and will become a Protection visa holder.

What if my application is refused?

If a visa application is refused by the Department, the Department will communicate this to the applicant. This communication will take the form of a letter and will outline why the Department refused the visa application, any rights of review that the applicant has under Australian immigration law or administrative law and the time limit for making an application for review. Applicants should be aware that the application fee will also not be refunded to them. Unless the applicant holds another valid visa, the Department will require that the applicant returns to their former habitual residence and may take steps to remove them from Australia. A visa application refusal may affect any future visa applications that the applicant may make.

Benefits of a Protection visa

Applicants should be aware that being granted a Protection visa (subclass 866) will provide them several benefits. Primarily, a Protection visa allows applicants to remain in Australia permanently and provides them permanent residence. Furthermore, applicants are able to work and study in Australia, access government services such as Medicare and Centrelink, sponsor other eligible family members for permanent residence through the offshore humanitarian program, travel to and from Australia for 5 years and after five years be permitted to return via a resident return visa. Furthermore, where eligible, applicants are able to pursue Australian citizenship (by applying to be an Australian citizen by conferral). 

Applicants should be aware that they will need to comply with Australian laws as failure to do so may result in the protection visa being cancelled.

How can Australian Migration Agents help?

At Australian Migration Agents, we are experienced and knowledgeable in navigating Australia’s immigration laws, including in helping applicants who are seeking protection in Australia. Being granted an Australian Protection visa can be a complex and confusing process, so at Australian Migration Agents we are committed to helping individuals seek asylum amongst the Australian community. An Australian Migration Agent is committed to providing advice and assistance at any stage of the application process and can help applicants understand how Australia’s immigration laws work, provide advice around an applicant’s eligibility, compile documents on an applicant's behalf and assist applicants lodge a strong ‘decision-ready’ Protection visa application.

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