Last updated 2 July 2016

Australia has one class of visas in the Offshore Humanitarian program, the Refugee and Humanitarian visa (class XB). The class XB visa covers two groups of people:

  • refugees—people who are subject to persecution and have been identified in conjunction with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as in need of resettlement
  • people involved in the Special Humanitarian program—for those who have experienced or fear substantial discrimination amounting to a gross violation of their human rights and who have strong support from an Australia citizen or resident, or a community group in Australia (proposer).

Holders of all permanent refugee and humanitarian visas granted offshore can propose immediate family members in the same subclass without having to establish that the applicant faces persecution or discrimination. Holders of permanent onshore protection visas may or may not be able to propose immediate family through this avenue, depending on the applicant’s age when they arrived in Australia and whether or not they arrived in Australia by sea. For more information on family reunion options for humanitarian entrants, please see the Refugee and Immigration Legal Service’s Refugee Family Reunion guide. There are no review rights for offshore refugee and special humanitarian applications. All the visas listed below are permanent visas.

Refugee visa

The Refugee visa (subclass 200) is for people who are subject to persecution in their home country and are outside of their home country and in need of resettlement. The majority of applicants who are considered under this category are identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and referred to the Australian Government for resettlement consideration.

In-country Special Humanitarian visa

This visa (subclass 201) offers resettlement to people who have suffered persecution in their country of nationality or usual residence, and who have not been able to leave that country to seek refuge elsewhere. It is for those living in their home country and subject to persecution in their home country. This visa is rarely granted.

Global Special Humanitarian visa

The Global Special Humanitarian visa (subclass 202) is for people who, while not being refugees, are subject to substantial discrimination and human rights abuses in their home country. People who wish to be considered for this visa must be proposed for entry by an Australian citizen or permanent resident over the age of 18, an eligible New Zealand citizen or an organisation operating in Australia.

Emergency Rescue visa

The Emergency Rescue visa (subclass 203) offers an accelerated processing arrangement for people who satisfy refugee criteria and whose lives or freedom depend on urgent resettlement. It is for those subject to persecution in their home country and assessed to be in a situation such that delays due to normal processing could put their life or freedom in danger. It is a rarely used visa category.

Woman at Risk visa

The Woman at Risk visa (subclass 204) is for women outside Australia, living outside of their home country, without the protection of a male relative and in danger of victimisation, harassment or serious abuse because of their gender. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees would usually refer cases to the Australian Government for resettlement.