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Afghan Invictus athletes who sought asylum in Australia given permanent visas

14 May 2019 1TV News

2019-05-14 | 35 minute ago

Six former Afghan soldiers who sought asylum in Australia after Invictus Games in Sydney have been granted permanent protection visas, it was reported Tuesday.

The group including five athletes and one official were part of 11-member delegation who visited Australia in October last year for the international Paralympic-style event for military personnel wounded in action.

After the games ended, they refused to return to their home country, following which they were issued with bridging visas, enabling them to stay legally in Australia while their protection visas were being processed, Australia’s SBS News reported.

“We are extremely pleased with this outcome,” said Alison Battisson, Director Principal of law firm Human Rights for All, the law firm which acted on their behalf.

“After the Games were over the athletes sought legal advice, and were able to commence an asylum process that after eight or nine months, resulted in permanent visas.”

The Afghans’ decision to say in Australia was no planned before travelling.

"They planned to go back, but these 10 days actually changed them,” Mirwais Ramaki, a games volunteer who was helping the team , told SBS News in November last year.

“One of them actually said when he came and saw the people here - basically it was his first time coming out of the country, being in a safe and peaceful environment - that totally changed his perceptions."

With permanent visas, they are allowed to live, work and study in Australia indefinitely; access government services such as Medicare and welfare; sponsor eligible family members for their own permanent residence; and, in some cases, become a citizen.

Battison said the athletes have already started working and are paying taxes.

“They can’t wait to contribute and pay thanks to the country that gave them asylum”, she said.

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