CANBERRA, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government has restored the family reunion pathway for refugees who came to the country by boat.
Minister for Immigration Andrew Giles recently reversed the former government's policy which gave family reunion visa applications by boat arrivals the "lowest priority" for processing.
The previous coalition government enacted the ministerial directions in 2013 as part of Operation Sovereign Borders, which aimed at stopping maritime arrivals of asylum seekers in Australia.
The government argued at the time that making it harder for boat arrivals to secure visas for their families would act as a deterrent.
Giles's reversal, which the Labor government flagged in November, has opened a path for thousands of family members of refugees to have their visa applications processed.
"The government is improving the family reunion pathways for these permanent visa holders, many of whom have been separated from family for over a decade, exacerbating mental health issues and imposing great and enduring uncertainty on their lives," state broadcaster SBS quoted Giles as saying.
"The government is resolving the bureaucratic burden of the asylum legacy caseloads in a humane way."
To help clear the backlog, the number of staff processing visas for applicants in complicated situations has been doubled.
The Labor government has maintained the coalition's broader policy on strong border protection and turning back asylum seeker boats since winning power in May 2022.
In parliament on Tuesday, the government passed legislation to reauthorize offshore immigration detention on Nauru for up to a decade. ■