They were allowed to enter the flights with three-month emergency temporary visas, which are due to expire next month.
The visas specified that the passes, once in Australia, were not allowed to apply for “any other visa other than a visa for Subclass 449 of Humanitarian Stay (Provisional), without the permission of the Home Secretary”, copies of the visa documents obtained . of SBS News showed.
On Thursday, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced that the government would allow those with temporary visas to switch to permanent visas, as part of a $ 27 million package to support the evacuees.
The government has pledged more than $ 6 million to help legal services support evacuees transition from the 449 visas to permanent visas.
The move was welcomed by military lawyer Glenn Kolomeitz, who helped evacuate more than 1,000 Afghans, many of them allies, who aided Australia’s defense forces and the Kabul embassy as interpreters and security guards.
Mr. Kolomeitz’s team at GAP’s Veterans and Legal Services worked in his favor. He had previously expressed concerns about the uncertainty for evacuees given the threat of visa expiration specified in their flight offers.
“It will be much fairer for the Afghans themselves and it will make it much fairer for legal practitioners trying to help them,” Mr Kolomeitz told SBS News.
Human rights lawyer Arif Hussein, of the Refugee Counseling and Case Work Service, said more clarity was needed, raising concerns about those whose requests could be denied.
“The government needs to ensure that people have adequate rights to appeal and access the legal systems, which at this stage remains unclear,” he said.
Mr Kolomeitz also expressed concern about hundreds of others who had received emergency temporary visas in Afghanistan but could not distinguish during evacuation flights.
He said more than 1,200 of his clients remain stranded in Afghanistan, and their visas expire after one month.
Among that cohort is Sam *, a former security guard who worked at the Australian embassy in Kabul, to whom he received a temporary visa in August.
Despite multiple attempts to attempt to enter evacuation flights at Kabul airport, he was unable to leave with his family due to massive crowds and security threats at the airport queue.
Sam told SBS News that he is afraid of being abandoned.
“We deserve security,” he said.
“We expect the Australian government to pave the way for us to leave safely.”
A group of former interpreters who worked for the Australian Defense Force, some of whom have temporary visas, on Wednesday called on the Australian government not to forget them, holding a rally secretly from Kabul.
“We ask you to save our lives, to save the lives of our families,” one member of the group said in a video obtained by SBS News.
As part of its relocation announcement, the government is also funding Afghan community support groups, with nearly $ 8 million to mental health and nearly $ 5 million to help the newly restored jobs.
But the Afghan Australian Advocacy Network said there was no certainty in the announcement of paths to permanence for the 5,100 people from Afghanistan who remain temporary protection visas in Australia, or a mention of prioritizing a family reunion for those with loved ones in Afghanistan.
* Identity was hidden for their protection.