The federal government has accidentally advised a number of visa applicants to book return international flights out of Australia despite the current travel ban.
The Guardian has revealed that the Department of Home Affairs has been sending outdated letters, written before the pandemic, telling visa applicants that they must immediately book return overseas travel or risk having their applications denied.
Before the global pandemic began, applicants for certain permanent visa types needed to be outside of Australia for them to be granted. This includes parent and partner visas.
Recognising the risks posed by international travel at this time, the government introduced temporary time extensions for applicants.
However, applicants were still receiving letters advising they needed to “provide a scanned copy of their proposed departure travel arrangements” within 28 days, according to The Guardian.
“Applicants should allow a minimum of three (3) working days for a visa to be granted following their departure from Australia,” the letter said.
“Current health clearances will expire on [date] and police clearances on [date] which means for visa grant decision the clearances must still be valid, and the VAC2 amount paid.
“We cannot extend the health clearance beyond this date. Please advise travel arrangements so that we can monitor departure and complete the visa grants.”
The Department of Home Affairs said in a statement that the letters were sent out “inadvertently”, even to people who had already been granted extensions.
“Some standard letter requests with regard to completing visa requirements were inadvertently sent to applicants, including to those who may have been granted extensions of time,” it told The Guardian.
“The department has updated the standard correspondence to parent visa applicants, and published information on the department’s website, to reflect the availability of extensions of time for completion of parent visa requirements.”
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