Government admits backlog of humanitarian visas for Afghanistan, stops short of lifting visa cap

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Concerns remain over the number of Afghan visas that have yet to be processed by Australia a year after the capital Kabul fell to the Taliban.
The federal government is considering other visa avenues, but Immigration Minister Andrew Giles refrained from saying he will increase the cap on humanitarian visas by 31,500 for Afghans.
More than 40,000 requests concerning more than 211,000 people have been filed.

But only about 6,000 permanent visas have been granted in total, Mr Giles says.

“My first goal is to ensure that we meet this obligation, we find places and safety so that 31,500 people can rebuild their lives,” he told the ABC when asked to. raise the ceiling.
“The government is exploring a number of other visa avenues for people from Afghanistan.”
This includes increasing the humanitarian supply more broadly and expanding community sponsorship of refugees by an additional 5,000 places, Mr Giles said.
“We are committed over time to increasing the overall humanitarian supply,” he said.

“But my focus right now is to make sure we fill those places.”

Additional resources have since been allocated to help deal with the backlog, but no deadline has been set for clearing the requests.
“The demand has been absolutely overwhelming…and each of these requests needs to be properly logged so it can be properly addressed,” Mr Giles said.
“The backlog is growing quite rapidly. I am determined that while the scale of this problem is overwhelming, we are not overwhelmed with our response.

“We have hired additional staff to deal with the backlog and additional staff to deal with family reunification issues, which also affect Afghans.”

Despite the flood of demands a year after the Taliban took Kabul, Mr Giles says he does not blame the former government.
“I don’t know if it’s fair to say to the former government that we knew the number of people who were going to apply. Circumstances that happened about a year ago happened very, very quickly,” he said. he declared.
“The volume of demand is extraordinary and I think it’s fair to say it was unprecedented.”
“Each of these people covered by the applications must be properly registered and this takes time as we prioritize locally recruited employees, women and girls and members of minority groups.”

SBS News has reached out to Coalition for Immigration spokesperson Dan Tehan for comment.

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