Australia

Australia backflips on decision to reject visas for former Kabul embassy guards

The federal government has reversed the decision to refuse visas to more than 100 former security guards working at the Australian Embassy in Kabul, saying it will grant visas in “another humanitarian category.”

Former security guards who worked as contractors rather than direct employees were initially said not allowed to apply for special refugee visas exclusively for former employees.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued some of the refusal letters to the group and qualified to apply for a special visa called a locally engaged employee visa reserved for Afghans working with an Australian agency. I told you that there is no visa.

The current program requires former staff to obtain a certificate or proof of employment from the department in order to proceed to the next step in applying for a visa.

“Thanks for applying for certification under the Australian Government Visa Policy for at-risk employees,” the letter said.

“Unfortunately, you are not eligible to be certified under this visa policy.”

Employees of the Australian Embassy were said to be eligible to apply for a visa a few days after it was closed in late May.

A letter sent by DFAT to an Afghan who worked as a security guard at the Australian Embassy in Kabul.

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The letter does not provide a reason for the refusal of certification, but encourages applicants to consider the main humanitarian visa flows that Australia offers 3,000 locations.

Now, following a government statement on Sunday, security guards appear to have already been approved for humanitarian visas.

“The security guards mentioned in today’s media reports were not eligible for restricted local employee visas, but have already been approved for visas in another humanitarian category,” a spokesman said. Stated.

According to a government statement, all applicants who do not meet the criteria for the category of endangered employees will automatically submit their application to the Interior Ministry for automatic consideration under a different humanitarian flow. Now forwards.

“The rationalization of this process reflects the fact that the category of special visas for locally engaged employees is always restricted to that group, but not the general humanitarian category.” The spokesman said.

However, although former security guards’ humanitarian visas have been approved, it is unclear whether they will be able to board an evacuation flight from the country before the Australian Government ceases relief efforts at the end of the month.

Following the Taliban’s takeover of the country, embassy guards who said he worked at the embassy until closure said he was hiding and afraid of his life.

“I’m already disappointed because I’m like a prisoner at home and I can’t go out,” he told SBS News.

“Every day there is news that the Taliban will start a search for each house … looking for people who have served the army and those who have served the foreign army.”

Before the government made a U-turn on the decision, guards said they wanted it to be overturned.

“We serve with loyalty and integrity at the embassy, ​​and the Australian Government does not deserve to turn our back on us,” he said.

“We served them, protected them, and endangered our lives.”

Glenn Colomates, a military lawyer working to secure visas for many locally engaged employees, said the letter of refusal was an obstacle to helping ex-staff at risk. rice field.

“We are trying to save lives while being actively disturbed by Canberra bureaucrats,” he told SBS News.

“This entire shameful episode will be subject to judicial review within the next few months, and preferably to Congress in the next few years.”

He said it was unclear why some were denied while others were allowed to apply for a visa.

“After reading the acceptance and rejection letters, there is no rhyme or reason that some were accepted but most were rejected.

“Same job, same embassy, ​​same risk to life-someone in Canberra is now apparently capricious in deciding who to throw at the wolf.”

Place of originAustralia backflips on decision to reject visas for former Kabul embassy guards

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