…and the backlog is getting longer as the DIAC give priority to boat arrivals, over those who apply through the official channels.

There is currently a backlog of 20,500 special humanitarian visa applications waiting to be processed by the DIAC – yet the Salvation Army have been told that only 10 special humanitarian visa places are left until July.

Salvation Army officer Simon Hartley says: ”Australia has a legal obligation to deal with asylum seekers at its border. If they are found to be in need of protection, they should be allowed to stay. But it is unfair for people offshore to suddenly be made victims because of these boat arrivals.”

The federal government is considering private sponsorship to expand the number of special humanitarian places without hitting the federal budget.

Spectrum believes a payment model could offer an alternative option for refugees prepared to pay a people smuggler, but cautioned this would be unaffordable for many and that the government should consider no-interest loans.

The opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, said it was Coalition policy to hold a trial of private sponsorship, allowing organisations such as church groups to sponsor refugees above the official quota.

Mr Morrison said this would not be offered to families because of the financial burden. The Coalition would continue to link the two programs, but special humanitarian visas would be given priority over boat arrivals, he said.

Read more at The Sydney Morning Herald.