Australian Ukrainian community leaders have called on the federal government to extend the deadline for Ukrainians wishing to come here on humanitarian visas.
The July 14 outage comes just a few days after where he said that Australia would support Ukraine “for as long as it takes”, throwing the leaders of the Australian Ukrainian community into disarray.
After this date, displaced Ukrainians who have not yet received their human humanitarian stay (temporary) visa (subclass 449) will be required to reside on tourist visas.
This means they will not have access to Medicare, rental assistance or the right to work, which in turn means they will be dependent on volunteers or extended families for food, housing and medicine.
Temporary humanitarian visas were first offered in late March under the previous Morrison government.
The Home Office reports that more than 8,000 Ukrainian citizens in Ukraine have received visas, and as of July 8, more than 3,200 visa holders have arrived in Australia.
Vasily Borovyak is an Australian of Ukrainian origin who has been living in Sydney for 10 years. His 17-year-old nephew Miroslav fled persecution in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine after the invasion and planned to travel to Australia for safety.
Mr Borovyak told SBS News that he and his family bought a plane ticket for their nephew to Sydney in August, but due to a recent announcement, they had to cancel it.
Now they have bought a ticket for Saturday, having lost thousands of dollars and hoping that Mr. Borovyak will be able to get a humanitarian visa in time.
“A few weeks ago my brother, his wife and his son, who is my nephew, fled Kherson where bombs were flying over them,” Mr. Borovyak told SBS News.
“They were interrogated several times, in appalling conditions, and told to return to the occupied city. They were probably the only ones who didn’t listen and didn’t turn around.
“They were running through cornfields and other crops, which was dangerous because they were all mined.
“My brother contacted me and asked me to take care of his son. His name is Miroslav.
Miroslav Borovyak, 17, wants to study and work in Australia.
“He is a brilliant student. He got an A in his final exam and wanted to go to university, but unfortunately the city he was in was bombed, and when they moved to another city, it was also bombed.
“We agreed on a visa to Australia, and with the last money they bought him an air ticket for mid-August.
“We had to cancel the ticket due to the outage and I had to give them an extra $2,000 to buy a new ticket to fly on Saturday.
“We are not the only ones doing this. Ticket prices are getting insanely high. I can’t imagine what other people are going through. Where will they get the money?
Vice Chair of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organizations Kateryna Argyrou told SBS News the deadline will tear Ukrainian families apart.
“The initial reaction was that I think the community was overwhelmed, we didn’t know this was going to happen,” Ms Argyrou said.
“Obviously, there is a full-scale, full-scale war going on in Ukraine. So a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety, a lot of uncertainty.
“And one positive that some people had to look forward to is that if they can escape the war zone and go to Australia, they can start a new life here in what they consider to be a safe haven.
Ekaterina Arirou at a rally in support of Ukraine in Sydney on June 26. Credit: Nicholas Buenc.
“We have women and children who are here without their husbands – they cannot leave the country due to martial law – so we are focused on finding a solution to this problem so that families are reunited and not broken up.”
Bohdan Volodya, president of the Ukrainian Council of New South Wales, told SBS News that many displaced Ukrainians have spent their last money coming to Australia and cannot afford health checks before the due date.
Arrivals from Ukraine go through a two-stage visa process: first, a humanitarian stay (temporary) visa (subclass 449) is issued, and then a temporary (humanitarian) visa (subclass 786), which is valid for three years and allows holders to work. , learn and access Medicare.
“When changing from a 449 humanitarian visa to a 786 visa, a medical examination is required, which is a fairly basic blood pressure medical check that you think would be simple but costs $365,” Mr. Volodya said. .
“Only Bupa can carry out these checks, so you need to negotiate with the specific supplier. If you’re a family of four, you’re talking about coughing up $1,200 or more.”
Mr. Volodya says Afghan refugees did not have to meet this requirement in order to receive humanitarian visas.
“It’s just one of the rules that the Afghan refugees have given up. They didn’t have to do it at all. But in our case, Ukrainians have to overcome this obstacle.”
Be Kind Sydney is raising funds to help displaced Ukrainians pay for medical checkups required to obtain a humanitarian visa. Charity CEO Loredana Fyff says “the clock is ticking.”
“Be Kind Sydney is providing displaced Ukrainians arriving in Sydney with cash assistance they can spend as they see fit to provide them with dignity during a crisis. For many in this asylum-seeking community, the transition from tourist visas to visas for humanitarian assistance is a major goal,” said Ms. Fyff.
“This will allow them to work and start supporting themselves and their families.
“This latest announcement means the clock is ticking much faster to make this transition, however the first step is to obtain and pay for the mandatory medical visa.
“We are calling for donations to overcome the kind of financial hurdles that displaced Ukrainians face as they start a new life in Sydney.”
People can help reach Be Kind Sydney’s $75,000 fundraising goal by following .
The fund has raised $50,000 so far.
The Home Office said it “continues to consider visa applications from Ukrainian citizens as a priority, especially for those with close personal ties to Australia.”
The ministry said that after July 14, those Ukrainians who do not accept the offer of a temporary humanitarian visa “may request information about alternative visa options from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.”