The Department of Immigration has sent out letters to over a thousand of the approximately 12,000 asylum seekers in the community who are yet to lodge their application for refugee status.
According to the Department, asylum seekers who receive the letters are considered ‘not to have engaged’ during the so-called ‘fast-track’ process.
The letters instruct the recipient to contact the Department and lodge their application for refugee protection within 60 days. If a person who receives a letter does not ‘engage’ within 60 days:
- any income payments they are receiving from the government will cease;
- they will be given 14 days before they are referred to the Department for ‘status resolution’, where they risk permanently losing the right to apply for asylum; and
- their right to work and access Medicare may be withdrawn.
In addition, the letters warn that an asylum seeker’s bridging visa may not renewed if they fail to lodge their application, potentially leading to detention and deportation.
If a person who receives a letter subsequently ‘engages’, they can request a 30-day extension for lodging their application. There is, however, no scope for further extending the deadline.