Immigration is when people from another country come to Australia:
- to live permanently
- to visit here temporarily
- for work or study.
People from other countries need a visa to stay in the country.
Migrating to Australia
Most people wanting to migrate to Australia have to apply for a visa from their own country. There are strict rules about visas. There are three main ways of migrating to Australia.
Family migration is when a person applies to move to Australia to join a family member here who is a permanent resident or an Australian citizen. This includes husbands and wives, de facto partners, parents, and children.
There are many different types of visas a family member overseas can apply for, and the process can be quite complicated. The rules also change often, so get help.
Economic migration is for:
- professional and other skilled workers looking for work or business
- skilled people who are sponsored by an employer to work.
There are a number of ways you can get a visa based on your skills or qualifications. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship website lists the different skilled worker visas.
These visa applications are expensive and complicated. You may need help from someone who is qualified and experienced in this area. The Law Institute of Victoria can refer you to lawyers who specialise in immigration law.
Refugees through the Humanitarian Program
A refugee is a person who has good reason to feel at risk of serious harm in their own country. To be considered a refugee you need to be able to show that:
- you face persecution because of either your race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, or membership of a social group
- your own country is unable or unwilling to protect you.
If you are a refugee, you can get a protection visa to stay in Australia. The government lets a certain number of people migrate to Australia each year who have been found to be refugees overseas. You can also apply for a protection visa once you are already in Australia.
Getting a protection visa
To apply you must fill in an application form and explain why you cannot go back to your home country. The application fee is $30.
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship is the government department that will decide if you meet its rules about who is a refugee. These rules follow the United Nations’ Convention. If the department agrees that you are a refugee you will be given a protection visa. This means you have permission to stay and live in Australia.
While you are waiting on the outcome of your protection visa application you may be able to work, but it's best to get legal advice first, as you can be put in detention if you work without permission.
Coming to Australia without a visa
If you arrived in Australia without travel documents, or with false documents, you are at risk of being put in detention. You may be held in detention until you get a visa or you are removed from Australia.
Get legal advice immediately. Contact Victoria Legal Aid or the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre for legal information and advice. See Get help.
Understanding immigration law
For more detailed information about these laws see the chapter on immigration in The Law Handbook.