Thousands of Afghans who worked with Australian forces have had their temporary humanitarian visas extended. More than 5,600 temporary humanitarian visas were issued during the Afghanistan crisis in August.
The decision to extend the visas on an “ongoing basis” affects certified local workers, including interpreters, under the Department of Defence, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Federal Police.
It also includes people who worked in other capacities with the Australian government in Afghanistan, and their families who were issued temporary humanitarian visas, the federal government said on Thursday.
More than 5,600 temporary humanitarian visas were issued during the Afghanistan crisis in August.
More than 3,500 Afghan temporary humanitarian visa holders have begun their settlement journey in Australia.
Immigration minister Alex Hawke called on the ruling Taliban to not stop people who want to leave Afghanistan.
“Australia expects the Taliban to uphold its undertakings to allow Australians and Afghan visa holders to depart Afghanistan safely if they wish to do so,” he said in a statement.
“We continue to work with international partners to that end.”
But temporary humanitarian visas granted to other Afghans outside the certified local worker program will expire.
Mr Hawke said those people would get priority under Australia’s humanitarian and refugee intake program.
Initial priority will be given to vulnerable and persecuted minorities, women and children and those who have links to Australia, the government said.
“The government will continue to make announcements regarding Afghanistan and the evolving humanitarian situation in the near future,” Mr Hawke added.