Speak Directly To a Lawyer Now

1300 038 223
Open 7am - Midnight, 7 days
Or have our lawyers call you:
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Offshore Refugee and Humanitarian Visas

Refugee and humanitarian visas are visas that are granted to persons who are facing significant discrimination or human rights abuses in their home country and need protection. While a refugee visa requires the applicant to fulfil the Refugee Convention definition of a refugee, humanitarian visas can be granted in a broader range of situations where a person’s human rights are in danger. Applicants for refugee and humanitarian visas may be referred to Australia by the UNHCR or proposed by a family member. This page outlines the criteria for offshore refugee and humanitarian visas.

Global Special Humanitarian Visa subclass 202

The Global Special Humanitarian Visa is a permanent visa that allows a person to move to Australia permanently, to work and study here and to propose family members for permanent residence. An applicant for this visa must have a proposer who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident. The proposer is responsible for meeting the visa holder at the airport, supporting them in finding accommodation and accessing social services.

Subclass 200 refugee visa

Refugees who are granted visas onshore are placed on visa subclass 866. Those who are granted visas offshore are placed on visa subclass 200.

The refugee visa subclass 200 is available to persons who are outside their home country and cannot return to their country because of a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group from which the government is unable or unwilling to protect them.

The visa is also available to those who are at risk of serious harm because of their association with Australian agencies or defence forces in Iraq or Afghanistan. It is usually granted when a person has been mandated as a refugee by the UNHCR and referred to Australia for resettlement.

Subclass 201 In-Country Special Humanitarian Visa

The In-Country Special Humanitarian Visa is available to those facing persecution in their home country and still within that country.

Subclass 202 Global Special Humanitarian Visa

The Global Special Humanitarian Visa is available to those outside their home country and facing substantial discrimination that amounts to a gross violation of human rights. A person must be proposed for this visa by an Australian citizen, permanent resident or New Zealand citizen.

Subclass 203 Emergency Rescue Visa

The Emergency Rescue Visa is for persons who face an immediate threat to their life or freedom in their home country and require urgent processing. A person may be granted this visa when they are inside or outside of their home country.

Subclass 204 Woman at Risk Visa

The Woman at Risk visa is a visa for women who are outside of their home country without the protection of a male relative and facing persecution or severe victimisation because of their gender.

Split family provisions

A person who has been granted a refugee or humanitarian visa and has become an Australian permanent resident or citizen may be able to propose a family member who is outside Australia for a refugee or humanitarian visa.

A person is eligible for a visa under the split family provisions if:

  • the proposer told the Department about them before the proposer was granted their visa
  • the person is a member of the proposer’s immediate family;
  • the application is made within five years of the date the proposer’s visa was granted;
  • the proposer did not arrive by boat as an unauthorised maritime arrival after 13 August 2012

Community Support Program

The Community Support Program is a program that links people who are seeking to come to Australia on a refugee or humanitarian visa with Approved Proposing Organisations (APOs), which are Australian organisations that have been appointed to help someone in need.

A person may apply for the Community Support Program if they are proposing to work for an APO. The APO will then manage the visa application process and provide the applicant with advice and support throughout the application process.

Other considerations

In addition to meeting the criteria for the visa subclass that is being applied for, the Minister must be satisfied of the following:

  • There are compelling reasons to give special consideration to the application
  • The permanent settlement of the applicant in Australia is consistent with the Commonwealth’s regional and global priorities for humanitarian resettlement
  • Settlement is the appropriate course and not against the interests of Australia
  • The applicant meets the health and character criteria.

Applying for an offshore refugee or humanitarian visa

To apply for an offshore refugee or humanitarian visa, a person must complete a Form 842 – Application for Offshore Resettlement. The proposer must complete a Form 681 – Refugee and Special Humanitarian Proposal. There is no fee for making this application.

The application may be submitted online or sent to:

Special Humanitarian Processing Centre
Department of Home Affairs
GPO Box 9984
Sydney NSW 2001

If a person wishes to apply for one of these visas without a proposer, they must do so at a diplomatic, consular or migration office.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Fernanda Dahlstrom

This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

Legal Hotline
Open 7am - Midnight, 7 Days
Call 1300 038 223