September 25, 2021

How to Apply for an Australian Refugee visa outside Australia

A step-by-step guide to completing a Form 842

Mark Walsh

Due to the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, I'm getting a lot of enquiries about applying for a Refugee/ Humanitarian visa. Unfortunately, it's been many years since I've helped applicants with humanitarian visas, so my skills are quite rusty.

Regardless, I really would like to be of some small assistance to those applicants in a difficult situation and who cannot afford legal representation to apply. This is a step-by-step guide to completing a Form 842 - the application form for Refugee/ Humanitarian visa applications.

Before you start filling in this form, you should first got to the Department of Home Affairs website and research the eligibility requirements for a Refugee/ Humanitarian visa. You can also look here for a guide on using the Department's website to find our if you're eligible for an Australian visa.

Remember – the Form 842 is for applicant’s outside Australia – whether or not you are inside or outside your home country. Also, please keep in mind that the following information about Form 842 is generic. It cannot replace legal advice specific to your situation.


Applying for a Refugee/ Humanitarian Visa - Form 842

Regardless of which offshore Refugee/ Humanitarian visa you'd like to apply for, you will need to complete Form 842. Let me take you through the form, step-by-step. Most of the items in the form are clear, however, I'll try to give some tips on some potentially confusing items.

Form 842 - Department of Home Affairs Website


A few notes before you start:

  • The form can be completed by hand or on a PC/ Mac using Adobe Reader.
  • If you use a PC/ Mac, don't forget to save the form regularly as you are filling, to avoid losing your responses.
  • Question numbers referenced here are from the October 2020 version of Form 842.


Part A - Summary of applicants (pages 5-8)

Questions 1 – 3

These items are pretty straightforward. You will need to provide the details of all applicants you wish to include in the application ('immediate family' members only). ‘Immediate family’ means a spouse/de facto partner, dependent children or parent (in the case the main applicant for this application is under 18 years of age).

Pay attention to the notes, namely the applicants listed on the form must be dependent on the main applicant. To be clear, all secondary applicants must be dependent on the main applicant.

If the applicants have a passport or birth certificate, try to keep the names in the same format as those on your passport.

Alternatively, you may have UNHCR registration, marriage certificate, national ID card, so keep your name in line with that written on any of these identity documents.

You may not have an exact, official birth date recorded. In this case, you may consider using the format 1 January [year of birth], particularly if you are only aware of your age in years.


Part B - UNHCR registration/ mandate (page 9)
Question 4

As you will notice from the 'visa overview' on the Department of Home Affairs website, some of the visa subclasses require the applicant to have a UNHCR registration or mandate. If this applies to you or other applicants, enter the registration details.


Part C - Contact details (page 9)
Questions 5 – 8

Make sure you add as many emails, phone numbers as the spaces allow, to make sure you never miss any correspondence from the Department. I'd recommend allowing for electronic communication (email) if you have regular access to the internet.


Part D - Family background (page 10 – 14)
Question 9

Enter details of previous relationships – as applicable - otherwise enter N/A for the first entry of question 9

Question 10

Enter details of children from previous relationships – as applicable. If yes, it is important to demonstrate you have custody rights and/or permission from the previous partner for the child(ren) to be added to this application

Question 11

Enter details of your non-biological child(ren) -including whether the child has been formally or traditionally adopted. Provide supporting adoption papers as applicable.

Questions 12 & 13

Enter details of non-migrating family members –including spouse, de facto partner, dependent children. These are family that are not included in the application. Provide reason for why they are not added to this application.

Enter details of any family member that is not physically present with you now, e.g. missing or living separately.

Questions 14 & 15

Form 842 - question 14 - relatives of the 'main applicant'

  • Enter details of ALL relatives of main applicant (question 14) & partner of main applicant (spouse/de facto) (question 15)
  • 'Relatives' include: parents, brothers/sisters & children
  • Try to add as much detail as possible. For those exact dates you don't know, add a date as close as possible – perhaps focus on approximate year only.
  • It’s really important that you mention all family members here.  If you are inconsistent now, but you wish to include other dependent family members later, this may cause problems for your application and/or visa.

Part E – Links to Australia (pages 15-17)
Questions 16 – 17

Enter details of any relatives - in this application OR not in this application - that has applied or is waiting on the outcome of an Australian visa application Consider the family members mentioned in questions 14 & 15 when answering these questions.


Question 18

Some of the Refugee/ Humanitarian visa subclasses require the applicant to be proposed by a specified Australian or Approved Proposing Organisation. If this is applicable to your application, provide details of the proposer. Attach a completed Form 681.


Question 19

Answer this question if you have an ‘immediate family’ member that has been granted a Refugee/Humanitarian visa or Protection/Resolution of Status visa in the last 5 years. For 'immediate family' refer to note on question 1 above.


Questions 20-21

Enter details of other Australian relatives and/or connections to Australia.


Part F – Background Information (pages 18-20)
Question 22

Enter Passport details for all applicants. Provide as much detail as possible.


Question 23

Any details of migration and/or asylum in another country. This is an important question that may have a significant impact on your application. Where possible, seek some legal advice on this. If you were eligible for asylum in a ‘third country’ it may affect your eligibility for protection in Australia.

Question 24

Enter all address details for all applicants. Provide as much detail as possible.


Part G – Humanitarian claims (pages 21-25)

This section is crucial to the success of your application. In a future article, I will write on the important aspects here in more detail.

Questions 25 – 27

Enter details of all applicants' ethnic group/ religion or membership of political organisation. Which country all applicants are fearful of returning to, and if/ when you left this country.


Questions 28 - 33
  • Why do you fear returning/ remaining in the country mentioned in question 26
  • Method of departing the country (if departed). Provide details.
  • What do you believe will happen to you if you return to, or remain in the country?
  • Who do you think will harm or mistreat you in the country?
  • Do you think the authorities can and will protect you in the country?

Question 33

Travel through other countries. Refer to notes on question 23 above when answering this important questions.

Question 34

Enter UNHCR registration - as applicable.

Question 35

Enter details of any applicant's service in any military organisations - as applicable.


Question 36

Enter details of living in any refugee camps, collective accommodation or detention centres.


Question 37
Indicate whether you need an interpreter during any interviews with the Department of Home Affairs. Note: you will never be disadvantages if you choose to rely on an interpreter during your application.

Part H – Employment history (pages 26-27)
Question 38

All applicant’s employment history. Provide as much detail as possible.


Part I – Language and education (page 28)
Questions 39 - 40

All applicant’s main and other languages spoken, and education history. Provide as much detail as possible.


Parts J & K – Health and character (page 29)
Questions 41 - 42

Form 842 - question 42 - Character

  • You need to answer character questions as clearly and accurately as possible. Provide any details of any previous criminal issues –including ‘spent convictions’.
  • Do not omit any details because providing incorrect information can have a fatal effect on your visa application, even if the omission was minor and/or made in error.

Parts L & M – Assistance with form & Receiving communication (part 30)
Questions 43- 47
  • Enter details of any person assisting you to complete the form, and where you’d like the correspondence from the Department sent to you.
  • Make sure you have full and regular access to, for example, the internet or post box, so you don’t miss any requests or notifications from the Department.


Part N – Australian Values statement (page 31)
Question 48

Read the statement and all applicants to sign to agree.

Part O – Biometrics (page 32)
Question 49

Form 842 - Question 49 - Biometrics Declaration

Read the details about collecting all applicants' biometrics information (fingerprints and facial image). All applicants to sign to agree.

Part P – Declaration (page 33)
Question 50

Read the declaration carefully to understand what you are agreeing to when lodging your application. All applicants to sign/date to make the declaration.

Next steps
  • You'll need to put together the correct supporting documentation to attach to your application. A full list of required documents can be found at Part Q - Document Checklist (Question 51).
  • Once you've gathered all the required documents you'll need to find the most suitable location for lodgement of your application.
  • Details for overseas Department of Home Affairs offices are found here
  • Choose your country from the dropdown menu for more details.
  • Using Afghanistan as an example you will see the following information:

Department of Home Affairs - Contact details for Afghanistan

Final Message

As I am not currently practicing in this complex area of law, I can only provide quite simplistic information here. Regardless, I hope this information is useful to you and I wish you all the best with your application.

Photo by EJ Wolfson on Unsplash


The information provided in this article or anywhere on this website is of a general nature, it does not relate to your specific circumstance. This general information must not be used to form any assessment or opinion on individual visa eligibility. For an individual assessment you must contact us for a consultation session to confirm if you are eligible for any visa. 


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