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Kosovar caseload.

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Kosovar Caseload

VPS 044/2005

Minister for Immigration, Amanda Vanstone, today announced measures to allow 90 Kosovars to remain in Australia lawfully on bridging visas while she considers requests for Ministerial intervention.

‘4000 Kosovars were granted temporary safe haven visas in 1999,’ the Minister said.

‘All but 90 have returned home or elsewhere, in keeping with the conditions of their initial temporary safe haven visa.

‘This group has previously been given the opportunity to apply for protection or mainstream visas, either by the former Minister or myself, and is now close to exhausting further opportunities to remain in Australia.

‘Some of the group already have their final Review Tribunal decisions; others will receive it over the next few months. Those who wish to pursue Ministerial intervention will be given bridging visas until all the cases are available for consideration.

‘It is appropriate to consider any intervention requests from the remaining 90 at the same time to ensure consistency and fairness in making final decisions in each case.

‘It will also allow final decisions to take into account the features of the entire Kosovar caseload, including the fact that the vast majority have already departed Australia in line with the conditions of their original temporary safe haven visa.

‘If appropriate, intervention could occur earlier in some cases. However, it is expected very few cases will fall into this category.

‘This is obviously a difficult and uncertain time for many in this group and for the friends they have made while in Australia. However, it is important to balance this consideration against maintaining the integrity of special humanitarian visa categories (such as the safe haven visa) which require people return home as and when conditions in their home country allow.’

The Minister said the bridging visas would provide the opportunity for continued work rights for those that can demonstrate a need and access to special payments from Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme funds.

14 March 2005