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Bridging visas for boat asylum seekers

Bridging visas for boat asylum seekers

Brendan O'Connor, minister for immigration and citizenship, stated on Tuesday (May 7) that bridging visas could potentially apply to asylum seekers who arrive in boats.

There are currently five categories of bridging immigration visas currently available in Australia.

This type of visa lawfully gives non-citizens certain rights and privileges while they are waiting for a substantive visa application (made in Australia) to be processed, while arrangements are being made for them to leave our country, or while they are in Australia but do not have a visa for a specific reason.

Bridging visas are basically designed to alleviate the necessity of keeping non-citizens in immigration detention while their fates are determined.

Allowing some families to be 'released' into the community instead of being detained, claimed Mr O'Connor, is not only the less expensive option for our country, but also less taxing on the mental health and wellbeing of those immigrating.

"If they are found to be refugees," he stated, "they will be granted a visa to remain in Australia. If they are not, they will be expected to depart Australia."

Mr O'Connor assures Australians that those who are 'released' on bridging visas will receive the support they need, but they will not be made so comfortable that others are encouraged to follow their example and come to Australia by boat.

The decision to lump asylum seekers in with all other non-citizens in Australia is the latest demonstration that Labor are sticking to their 'no advantage' policy.

This policy, which was announced in June last year and designed to be "hard-headed but not hard-hearted", ensures that refugees will not be processed any faster than anyone else applying for substantive migration visas.

Mr O'Connor has called Tony Abbott's recent suggestions to stem the tide of asylum seekers "dangerous and unworkable", and believes Labor is on the right track when it comes to assuaging this problem.

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