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Breaking Family Ties: JRS Australia Submission to Family Reunions Visa Inquiry

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Refugee Family Reunites

Jesuit Refugee Australia (JRS) has made a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Inquiry into the Efficacy, Fairness, Timeliness, and Costs of Family and Partner Reunions

Based on JRS Australia’s work with thousands of people seeking asylum and refugees affected by the policies, the submission focuses on the exclusion of people seeking asylum and refugees from accessing the family reunion visas. JRS believes that the Australian Government’s policies on family reunions can “prolong family separation and exacerbate its negative impacts.”

The submission highlights the experience and testimony of people they have worked with and calls attention to fives ways in which the policies prolong the separation of families:

  • Refugees on Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEVs) are not eligible for family reunion.
  • People seeking asylum face significant delays through refugee status determination (RSD) in Australia extending the period of time during which they are ineligible for family reunion.
  • Refugees on permanent visas arriving by boat are accorded lowest priority for family reunion within the Special Humanitarian Program (SHP) and the Family stream of the overall Migration program.
  • Offshore processing policies contribute to family separation in a range of ways.
  • Refugees arriving in Indonesia after 1 July 2014 are ineligible for resettlement in Australia despite the presence of family members who are citizens or permanent residents onshore.

There are eight recommendations provided in the submission including allowing ‘refugees on temporary visas to sponsor their family members to reside in Australia under the same visa conditions, to abolish restrictions on overseas travel for temporary family reunions, to dedicate additional resources to refugee status determinations and introduce a new family reunion stream within the humanitarian program.” 

Read the submission, the testimonies it features and the recommendations as well as other policy submission from Jesuit Refugee Service here: