Subject: AGE: East Timorese get visa chance: Vanstone

The Age

East Timorese get visa chance: Vanstone

June 10, 2005 - 6:54PM

Dozens of East Timorese asylum seekers could be granted permanent visas after having their cases reviewed by Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone.

Senator Vanstone said she had reconsidered the cases of 53 of the asylum seekers.

Six had been ruled out and not all of the remaining 47 were likely to gain a visa, she said.

"A significant number of these asylum seekers submitted new and substantial information in support of their intervention requests following my announcement of May 19, including evidence of a high level of community integration and support," she said in a statement.

"As a result, I have written to 47 people asking them to complete relevant health and character checks so a final decision on whether to grant a permanent visa in their cases can be made."

Senator Vanstone said the group of 47 included several cases which were initially refused because of character concerns.

"In these cases, evidence of participation in rehabilitation programs, or whether an individual had reoffended recently, would influence any decision on whether to grant a permanent visa," she said.

She said the intervention process was usually a two-stage process, most had previously been refused at stage one and they had therefore not completed the relevant stage two health and character checks.

But it was prudent that stage two health and character checks either be carried out or updated before a final decision on whether to grant a permanent visa was made.

"I would not expect that every one of the 47 individuals will be granted a visa," Senator Vanstone said.

She confirmed previous decisions to decline visas to the remaining six other individuals who would be offered the government's reintegration package to assist them to return to East Timor.

The six would have a further 28 days to decide if they wish to accept the offer.

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