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Coalition welcomes visa offering to Afghans

Coalition welcomes visa offering to Afghans

The Coalition has welcomed the move by the government to offer Afghans, who are assisting troops in the war zone, visas.

The decision by the immigration minister, Chris Bowen will provide a pathway for access to Australia for locals risking their lives to assist the defence force (ADF) in the war effort in Afghanistan.

Shadow minister for immigration Scott Morrison said the Coalition supports this agenda which rewards the sacrifice made by citizens of the war torn nation.

He commented: "The Coalition has always believed that Afghans, who have courageously risked their lives and those of their families by actively supporting our troops in the field, deserve the chance to be offered protection in our country.

"These friends of Australia should never have been asked to continue to risk their lives each day under the uncertainty caused by the delay in the Government making this important decision to grant them entry to Australia - the Coalition today welcomes the end of that uncertainty."

This follows the 2008 decision to resettle Iraqis and their families who were assisting the ADF with their efforts in that conflict which wrapped up in 2011.

The immigration minister Chris Bowen says that despite plans to roll back the presence of the ADF in the Uruzgan province, Australia is committed to remaining in Afghanistan for the long term and employing locals.

This particular visa plan will seek to help those who are at the greatest risk of harm as a result of being employed by different Australian agencies including the defence force, federal police, the Department of Foreign Affairs and trade and AusAID.

In order to be eligible for these visas, the applicants must approach their Australian employer who will assess the level of threat against them. They will also consider the level of assistance provided, in addition to the length of time served and the circumstances surrounding their involvement with their agency.

Such roles these Afghans have been fulfilling include driving and translating duties.

If they are considered eligible, applicants can apply for an immigration visa under Australia's Humanitarian Program and must meet criteria involving character, health and security details.

Those who are approved will be able to come to Australia under the administration of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. They and their families will be eligible to access accommodation support, language courses and access to support from health, government and community services.

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