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Tuesday, 13 May 2003
Page: 14266


Mrs Crosio asked the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, upon notice, on 12 February 2003:

(1) How many applications have been made under the Government's refugee and humanitarian program in 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 through the embassies in Amman and Beirut, and how many of those applications have been granted.

(2) What is the average waiting period for applicants under the refugee and humanitarian program who have applied in Amman and Beirut.


Mr Ruddock (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Reconciliation) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) 2000-2001 program year:

During the 2000-2001 program year, 1781 applications for visas were lodged at the Australian Embassy in Beirut under the offshore humanitarian program, and 5 applications were lodged at the Australian Embassy in Amman. Amman was not a designated processing post for humanitarian applications during the 2000-2001 or 2001-2002 program years. During this time, all applications lodged in Amman were transferred to Beirut for processing.

During the 2000-2001 program year, the Embassy in Beirut finalised 2079 applications under the offshore humanitarian program. Of these finalisations, 507 were granted visas (comprising 251 refugee and 256 Special Humanitarian Program (SHP) visas). Applications finalised during this program year include applications that were lodged during previous program years.

2001-2002 program year:

During the 2001-2002 program year, a total of 1919 applications for visas were lodged at the Australian Embassy in Beirut, and 16 at the Australian Embassy in Amman under the offshore humanitarian program. Amman's applications were transferred to Beirut for processing.

During the program year, the Embassy in Beirut finalised 2273 applications under the offshore humanitarian program. Of these, 500 were granted visas (comprising 245 refugee and 255 SHP visas). Again, applications finalised during this program year include applications that were lodged during previous program years.

(2) Processing times for Beirut for the current program year to 31 January 2003 show that 50% of cases are finalised within 27 weeks with 75% of cases finalised within 66 weeks. This is the processing time from registration to finalisation, and includes rejections. The finalisation of approved cases shows that 50% of all grants are made within 38 weeks, with 75% of grants being made within 102 weeks. The additional time taken to finalise cases for approval is due to the processing of health and character checks, some of which may take more than six months to clear. Generally speaking refugee cases are finalised within shorter timeframes; SHP cases may take longer.

Processing times for Amman (which became a designated humanitarian processing post this program year) are 50% of cases finalised within 17 weeks and 75% of cases within 18 weeks. These figures comprise only refused cases, as Amman has not granted any humanitarian visas this program year.