More than 100 ex embassy staff receive visas

By Shannon Jenkins

Monday August 23, 2021

United States targets suspected bomber, Taliban assures safe passage for eligible civilians beyond August.
United States targets suspected bomber, Taliban assures safe passage for eligible civilians beyond August. (Defence)

The federal government has granted humanitarian visas to more than 100 Afghan nationals who previously worked for the Australian embassy in Kabul, including guards and maintenance staff.

However, the former embassy staff had received an email from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade stating that their applications had been rejected just one day before the visas were granted.

“Thank you for your application for certification under the Australian government’s visa policy for at-risk Afghan employees … Unfortunately, you are not eligible for certification under this visa policy,” the email obtained by Guardian Australia said.

The email, sent on Saturday, noted that an initial 3,000 humanitarian places were being allocated to Afghan nationals within Australia’s existing annual program.

“We encourage you to investigate your options fully, including under this humanitarian stream,” it said.

“You may also wish to contact a migration agent to discuss these avenues.”


Read more: Time running out for Australia to do the right thing for locally engaged in Afghanistan


The following day DFAT told Guardian Australia that the former embassy staff had been approved for humanitarian visas, noting that applicants who aren’t ‘at-risk employees’ have their applications automatically considered under another humanitarian stream.

“This streamlining of processes reflects the fact that the special visa category for locally engaged employees has always been restricted to that group, while the general humanitarian category is not,” DFAT said.

“This process has already resulted in hundreds of other visas being granted to those who are ineligible for the special category.”

More than 470 people were evacuated from Kabul on Sunday night on several RAAF flights, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday morning.

Australia evacuated more than 300 people out of Kabul on Saturday night.


Read more: Afghan employees sent pleading letter to Australian government


 

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