Fact sheets

Asylum Seekers Q & A

Q. Who are asylum seekers?
Asylum seekers are people who apply to the Government of a country for recognition as a refugee. If they are successful they are offered the protection of that country.
Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution."

Q. Who are refugees?
The United Nations defines refugees as:
people who are outside their country of nationality or usual residence, and are unable or unwilling to return or to seek the protection of that country because of a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.

Q What are Australia's obligations to asylum seekers under international law?
In February 2001 Australia became one of the 140 countries that are parties to the 1951 Convention and/or the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees. This Convention requires that signatory countries do not return a refugee to their country of origin or other place of persecution but does not require them to provide permanent residence to meet that requirement

Asylum seekers who are found to be refugees and owed protection by Australia, and who have entered legally on genuine documents are granted a Protection Visa (PV) which gives them permanent residence.
Those who are found to be refugees and owed protection, but who have entered Australia illegally or on fraudulent documents, are granted a Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) which gives them residence for three years.

Q. How many refugees does Australia take?
Australia allocated 12,000 places for refugees and other displaced people under the 2000-2001 Humanitarian Program which included:

Q. Where do they come from?
At present, the majority of humanitarian entrants come from the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East and Africa, Australia's priority resettlement regions.


  1. .Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs Fact sheets
  2. UNHCR & Refugees
  3. Face the Facts Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission 2001

Theme: Migration and refugees