This position paper proposes that the Australian government reform the visa pathway requirements to enable refugees on a Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) or Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) to access a permanent visa. This would be in line with the approach taken by the Howard Government, which granted permanent visas to more than 9,500 refugees on TPVs between 2004 and 2007.
Refugees on TPVs and SHEVs are trapped in indefinite limbo. They have found to be refugees by Australia and can’t return home, but they will remain indefinitely on temporary visas, unable to become Australian citizens, settle in Australia, buy houses, invest in Australia, and reunite with their family. This not only creates significant distress for people on these visas, but also prohibits them fully contributing to the Australian economy.
People currently on TPVs and SHEVs have been in Australia for between 8½ and 12 years. During this time, they have worked in various critical industries, paid taxes and adhered to Australian laws and values. They have demonstrated a strong desire to integrate into the Australian community. As they will never be able to return to their country, it makes no sense – economically or socially – to keep these people in indefinite limbo.
Recent research shows that giving refugees on TPVs and SHEVs permanency will support people to settle into the community and contribute to the economy.