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What to do if you are a visa holder suffering from domestic violence?

If you are facing any kind of conduct that makes you fear for yourself or your family’s safety and wellbeing, including being subject to any form of verbal, physical or violent behaviour, the Department of Home Affairs encourages all permanent and temporary visa holders and applicants to leave violent situations and seek assistance from service providers.

The Department does not, under any circumstances, suggest people stay in violent situations for a visa outcome or legal status in the country.

COVID-19 has coincided with an increase of domestic violence cases against women, according to the Australian Institute of Criminology. Due to this increase, the Australian Government, having zero tolerance for family and domestic violence against anyone in the community, has provided $130 million directly to State and Territory governments to support frontline services during the pandemic.

To support the Government’s efforts in assisting victims, the Department has shared answers to some frequently asked questions to assist visa holders in ensuring that they have access to information about the existing policies and support services. Read the full document here:

If you are concerned about the cancellation of your visa or what could happen if you leave a violent relationship, this information will be important to help you understand your visa rights:

Will you lose your visa or can your visa be cancelled if you separate from your partner due to family and domestic violence?

No, you and your family members do not have to remain in a violent relationship to stay in Australia, however, you should notify the Department if you are experiencing this situation.

If you are on a temporary visa, your visa will not be cancelled and the Department is committed to working with victims to resolve their situation under the migration law framework.

If you are the primary applicant, that is the main person who applied for the visa application, and the dependent or secondary applicant is perpetrating family and domestic violence against you, you can request for them to be removed from your visa application.

If you are a secondary applicant, you may need to apply for another visa on your own or make arrangements to depart Australia.

What can happen to perpetrators of family and domestic violence?

There are three possible scenarios:

  • Perpetrator is a visa holder: their visa can be cancelled (will depend on individual circumstances).
  • Perpetrator is a visa applicant: their visa application can be refused under section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 and Ministerial Direction No. 79.
  • Perpetrator is an Australian citizen or permanent resident: you can inform the police about your family and domestic violence situation, you may be able to take out a Protection Order and possibly pursue criminal charges against them.

Can a perpetrator of family and domestic violence cancel your visa or any visa application you have made?

No, only the Minister or a delegated officer has the power to refuse or cancel a visa. If you are suffering from family violence and your relationship breaks down because of this circumstance, your visa will not be cancelled.

Can you apply for consideration under the family violence provisions?

The family violence provisions provide protections for an applicant to continue with their visa application despite the breakdown of their relationship with the sponsor.

You can apply for consideration if you are a holder or have applied for any one of the following:

  • Temporary Partner (subclass 309) visa granted outside Australia
  • Applicant or holder of a Partner (subclass 820) visa in Australia
  • Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa holder who has married their sponsor
  • Dependent applicant for a Distinguished Talent (subclass 858) visa

To meet the family violence provisions, the family and domestic violence must have occurred while the relationship with the sponsor existed and this relationship must have been genuine prior to it ending.

Can you apply for a Status Resolution Support Service payment?

While you resolve your immigration status, either through the grant of a substantive visa or departure from Australia, the Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) program can provide you short-term support.

To be eligible you must be either:

  • A non-citizen living in a Residence Determination arrangement. These arrangements are an alternative to regular detention arrangements as provided under the Migration Act 1958; or
  • A non-citizen living in the Australian community, who is seeking to engage Australia’s protection obligations by making a valid application for a protection visa (temporary or permanent).

Generally, those who hold a substantive visa (such as a Student, Visitor, Partner, or Skilled visas) or who have a Bridging visa with work rights, are not eligible for the SRSS program.

How do you contact the Department about family and domestic violence?

Depending on your situation, you may be able to advise the Department in one of the following ways:

  • Phone 131 881
  • Submit a completed Form 1022 (please see here), or update your details online on Immiaccount
  • Contact your processing officer directly
  • Send a letter to your nearest office

Remember, if you find yourself in any circumstance of danger, call the Police on 000 and notify the Department immediately.

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