Friday, June 21, 2024

Australia Scraps Visa for Afghan Interpreters

Immigration News

Fidel Rahmati
Fidel Rahmati
Fidai Rahmati is the editor and content writer for Khaama Press. You may follow him at Twitter @FidelRahmati

The Australian federal government has decided to scrap a crucial visa programme for Afghans who served the country, including interpreters who assisted Australian forces.

Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, over 2,000 Afghan LEE holders and their family members have travelled to Australia. 

However, unknown Afghan translators are stranded in the country, still facing the threat of violent retaliation under Taliban rule.

The Australian announced on Friday that it will terminate the locally engaged employee Visa (LEE) program in May 2024, with applications to close in November.

An independent review of the programme advised that move after concluding that neither the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade nor the Defense had “adequate case management systems in place.”

It was discovered that the programme needed better record-keeping, limited legal monitoring, and delays in departmental communication.

“Applicants from these cohorts who were previously found to be ineligible will be contacted, where possible,” the government said in a statement.

Dr Kolomeitz accepted that the November deadline might cause applicants to rush to submit their applications. “There will be a lot of work in the short timeframe,” he told SBS News.

“But just reading the general tenor of this [report] … I certainly expect there will be much cooperation from [Foreign Minister] Senator [Penny] Wong’s office and Home Affairs.

“I am quietly confident now that we will get this job done.”

In the past ten years, more than 2500 Afghan employees and their families, including translators and consular staff, have been resettled in Australia.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong criticized the previous administration for the way it handled evacuations after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 2021.

Since the fall of Kabul, more than 12,000 permanent humanitarian visas have been issued to Afghan citizens.

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