Protection visa (subclass 866)


This visa allows you to:

  • live and work in Australia as a permanent resident.​


You must:

  • engage Australia’s protection obligations
  • have arrived in Australia on a valid visa


Length of stay



From AUD 35

Global processing times

For visa processing times, see Refugee or humanitarian programme visa processing times.

Learn about...​


Who could get this visa

You might be able to get a Protection visa (subclass 866) if all of the following apply:

  • you arrived in Australia legally
  • you engage Australia's protection obligations
  • you meet the health, character and security requirements
  • you meet one of the following criteria:
    • you are a refugee as defined by the Migration Act 1958
    • you meet the complementary protection criteria in the Migration Act 1958.
  • you are not barred from lodging a Protection visa application
  • the minister is satisfied that the grant of the visa is in the national interest.

Australia’s protection obligations

According to the Migration Act 1958, refugees are people who are outside their home country and cannot return because they have a well-founded fear of persecution due to their:

  • race
  • religion
  • political opinion
  • nationality
  • membership of a particular social group.

Australia is obliged under the Refugees Convention to provide protection to refugees and to ensure they are not returned to any place where they are likely to face persecution for one of the five grounds under the Migration Act 1958.

Protection can also be provided to people who cannot be returned to their home country because they engage Australia's complementary protection obligations.

Read Protection obligations for more information.


You must undergo health examinations. This will protect your health and the health of the Australian community.

These examinations are conducted by Bupa Medical Visa Services.

You will be given a health identifier (HAP ID) and information about how to arrange your health examinations, after you have lodged your visa application.


You must meet certain character requirements. You must be prepared to provide a police certificate from each country you have lived in for 12 months or more during the past 10 years after you turned 16 years of age. Do not arrange for police certificates until we ask you to.


You must meet certain identity requirements. It is your responsibility to cooperate and confirm your identity so these checks can be done accurately.

We will use information about your identity as part of assessing your claims for protection and completing character and security checks.

The visa

About this visa

To be granted a Protection visa (subclass 866) you will need to be found to engage Australia’s protection obligations because you either:

  • are a refugee as defined by the Migration Act 1958
  • meet the complementary protection criteria in the Migration Act 1958.

You might also be eligible for a Protection visa if you are the family member of a person found to engage Australia's protection obligations.

What this visa lets you do

This visa allows you to live and work in Australia as a permanent resident and have access to Medicare and Centrelink services.

You can use Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) for free to check your visa details and entitlements.

If you want to sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence, you can do so under the family stream. In limited circumstances, you might be able to sponsor your eligible family member for this visa.



You will need to pay the visa application charge for your application to be processed. If you do not pay the whole visa application charge, or are paying this charge by credit card and have insufficient funds available, your visa application will be invalid. Information about how to pay the visa charge is available.


You and any eligible family members included in the application must be in Australia when you apply for this visa.

How long your visa lasts

This is a permanent visa.


You can include the following people in your visa application:

  • your partner (married or de facto)
  • your or your partner’s dependent children
  • other eligible dependent relatives.

Only family members who are in Australia and whose immigration status allows them to apply can be included in the application.

Your obligations

You and your family must comply with all visa conditions and Australian laws.

Travel condition 8559 applies to this visa.

Providing false or misleading information in your visa application

You must ensure you provide accurate information about your personal circumstances. A person who is found to have provided false or misleading information in a visa application could face penalties.

Follow these steps

  1. Before you apply

    Help to prepare your application

    You can prepare and lodge your visa application yourself. You can also get help from:

    You cannot pay your family and friends. If you have paid anyone to assist you with your application, you need to declare them on your application form.

    Using a migration agent or exempt persons

    Free help

    Government funded migration advice and help with applications might be available through the Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme (IAAAS). The Government provides funding for professional immigration advice and application assistance for protection visa applicants who have entered Australia lawfully and meet the eligibility criteria or are minors (for any visa in Australia) for whom the Minister for Home Affairs is guardian under the Immigration Guardianship of Children (IGOC) Act 1946.  To be eligible for IAAAS applicants must meet the eligibility test if you satisfy the below criteria:

      1. Did not arrive illegally without a valid visa in Australia
      2. Have not engaged a registered migration agent. If previously engaged a registered migration agent has since disengaged and is no longer receiving assistance
      3. Have not previously had a valid protection application considered in Australia
      4. Is in the best interests of Government, that non-citizens facing a well-founded fear of persecution are not prevented from applying for protection simply because they are suffering financial hardship and do not have the capacity to make an application because they are exceptionally vulnerable.
        • To be eligible for immigration advice must only meet financial hardship criteria
        • To be eligible for application assistance must meet both financial hardship and exceptional vulnerability components.

      There is a range of personal circumstances that may satisfy the exceptional vulnerability criterion:

      • conditions affecting cognitive function (for example, Down Syndrome, autism, dementia)
      • mental illness
      • past experiences of torture and trauma
      • incapacitating illness
      • drug dependency.

    Provision of services

    The IAAAS Service Provider, Settlement Services International, organises and manages contact with registered migration agents who offer independent, professional immigration advice and application assistance, through a network of registered migration agents located throughout Australia.  

    This funded assistance stops when the Department has made a decision. Only minors (for any visa in Australia) for whom the Minister for Home Affairs is guardian under the Immigration Guardianship of Children (IGOC) Act 1946 will have continued assistance at merits review. It is not available to you if you are seeking judicial review or requesting ministerial intervention.

  2. Gather documents


    Prepare your documents

    You need to provide documents to support your application for this visa. We can make a decision using the information you provide when you lodge your application. It is in your interest to provide as much information as possible in your application and that your application is truthful and complete.

    Do not include original documents unless we specifically ask for them. Police certificates should be original documents. Documents not in English must be accompanied by accredited English translations.

    Both paper and online applications must include all the information about you and other people in your family, including your claims for protection and information about your identity. If you are applying online you can attach the documents to the online application. If you are applying by paper form, you should provide certified copies of documents, including identity documents.

  3. Apply

    Lodge your application

    You must lodge a valid application.


    You can apply online through ImmiAccount.

    Online lodgement is the preferred method of lodgement. If you lodge online through ImmiAccount you will receive automatic confirmation that your application has been lodged.

    By post

    If you are unable to apply online complete and lodge a Form 866 - Application for a Protection visa.

    If you are registered with UNHCR and have been assessed by UNHCR, then you will need to provide us with consent to speak to the UNHCR about your claims. Fill in the UNHCR consent form (98KB PDF) and attach it to your application.

    Lodgement locations for paper applications are changing from 1 September 2018. You can no longer post your application to the Onshore Protection Victoria address.

    All Paper applications must be lodged by post directly to:  
    Department of Home Affairs
    Onshore Protection New South Wales
    GPO Box 9984
    SYDNEY NSW 2001

    Applications received by post at any other location on or from 1 September 2018 will be invalid.

    You can send your application by Registered Post which is a secure method of mail allowing you to track your application.

    Applications cannot be lodged in person at any of our offices.

    Statement of Australian values

    You must sign an Australian values statement included in Part C of your application form. Before you do this you must read, or have explained to you, the information provided by the Australian Government in the Life in Australia booklet. The Australian Values Statement confirms that you undertake to respect the values and Australian society and during your stay in Australia will obey the laws of Australia.

    More information

    There is more information to help you prepare your application, which gives advice about certifying and translating documents into English, communicating with us, using a migration agent, authorising another person to receive information from us, and receiving assistance with your application.

    Completing your Permanent Protection visa application

  4. After you apply

    Provide biometrics

    After you have applied you and any family members in Australia included in your application must let us take a digital photograph of your face and a scan of your fingerprints. Some people do not need to provide their fingerprints (see below).

    You can apply for a waiver under limited circumstances.

    If you do not let us collect this information:

    • your application for this visa will be invalid and cannot be approved
    • if you are granted a bridging visa when you apply, it will end 28 days after you are notified that your application is invalid.

    More information about how we collect this information is available at photographs and fingerprints.

    Waivers for photographs and fingerprints: Waivers can apply in exceptional circumstances and we will consider as required.

    If you are younger than 18 years of age

    Wait for a decision

    After you apply for your Protection visa (subclass 866), we will send you an acknowledgement letter.

    If you are not in immigration detention, you might be granted a bridging visa that allows you to stay lawfully in Australia while your Protection visa (subclass 866) application is being processed.

    The type of bridging visa you are granted and whether you are allowed to work depends on a number of circumstances.

    Provide more information

    You can provide more information to us, in writing, at any time until a decision is made on the application. If you want to correct information you have previously provided, use:

    • Form 1023 - Notification of incorrect answer(s)  (99KB PDF).

    We could also ask you for more information. You will have to respond by a set date. After that date, we can make a decision about your application using the information that we have.

    We can use a range of means to communicate with you, including by post or telephone or, if you provide consent for us to communicate with you electronically, by email.

    If you appoint a migration agent and give us your migration agent's name and address in writing, we will assume you want your migration agent to receive documents and communication from us. However it does not prevent you from contacting us. You have the option of directly receiving communication from us.

    You also have the option to authorise another person to receive written communication on your behalf even if that person is not a registered migration agent.

    If another person gives us information that could result in you being refused a visa, we will usually give you the opportunity to comment on the information.


    You might also be interviewed. If you are asked to attend an interview in person, bring your passport or other identification and any requested documents to the interview.

    If you are interviewed, give all the information needed to make a decision about your visa application. We will provide you with an interpreter at the interview if you need one. Your friend, relative or migration agent can also attend the interview with you.

    If you do not attend an interview that we have asked for, your Protection visa application can be decided on the information available to your decision-maker at the time.

    Interview process

    Visa decision

    Processing times

    Every protection visa application is considered as quickly as possible. However, it could take a number of weeks or many months to make a decision on your application. The time taken to decide an application is dependent on you providing all your information in the application form and you responding to any requests for more information or comments from the decision maker in the specified timeframe.

    If your visa is approved

    We will send you a visa grant letter. It is important that you read the Visa Grant Notice and the Important Information leaflet that is attached to your grant letter.

    Grant of Permanent Protection visa

    If your visa is not approved

    If this visa is not approved, we will send you a letter stating:

    • why the visa was refused
    • your review rights with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and how you can apply for a review
    • the time limit for lodging an application for review.

    If your protection visa has been refused or cancelled, you can ask the Minister for Home Affairs to intervene in your case. The Minister does not have to consider your request and he only intervenes in a very small number of cases.

    Refusal of a Permanent Protection visa

    Applying for assistance

    If you have lodged a valid application for this visa you might be able to get financial or other assistance.

    Financial help and casework services

    The Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) program provides services to certain non-citizens while they cooperate with the Department to resolve their immigration status. The level of financial and casework assistance you can access through the SRSS program depends on your situation. More information is available on the Medicare website.

    Access to Medicare

    You can visit the Medicare website to find out about getting health benefits from the Australian Government. We encourage you to provide Medicare with a copy of your 'Acknowledgement' letter so that Medicare can access your details.

Tell us of changes

Changes to your circumstances

Tell us if your circumstances change after you have applied for this visa. This includes a new residential address, a new passport, or a pregnancy, birth or death in your family.

You can use the following forms:

  • Form 929 - Change of address and/or passport details (86KB PDF) — if you move to a new address or change your passport
  • Form 1022 - Notification of changes in circumstances (77KB PDF) — if there are other changes in your circumstances.

Post these forms to the address mentioned on the forms.

If you have lodged your application online, you can update your details in ImmiAccount.

Withdrawing your visa application

You can withdraw the application by advising us in writing at any time before we make a decision about your application. This can be done by letter, email or completing Form 1446 - Withdrawal of a visa application. Your letter of withdrawal should include your full name, date of birth, date of application, and file reference number/transaction record number (if known).

Everyone included in the application who is 18 years of age or older must sign the form or letter of withdrawal.

If you applied online you can attach Form 1446 to your application. Information on attaching documents to an online application is available.

Estimate the cost of your visa

* Price will be displayed in Australian dollars unless changed.
The following Visa Pricing Estimator requires you to answer the questions as accurately as possible to provide you with an estimate for lodging a visa application. The estimator might not include the second instalment of the visa application charge which is payable for some visas. Please note this is an estimate for a visa application, if you have already lodged your application and you want to change/add applicants please refer to the Visa Pricing Table. The Visa Pricing Estimator will give you an estimate of the charges you may need to pay to lodge a visa application. This is paid after you have made your application but before the visa can be granted. Read the department's full disclaimer. The Commonwealth of Australia does not guarantee the accuracy, currency or completeness of any material in the Visa Pricing Estimator.