Tamil asylum seeker Neil Para granted permanent residency after 1000km walk
Tamil asylum seeker Neil Para had been living on a bridging visa for the past 10 years. Photo: AAP
Tamil asylum seeker Neil Para, who walked 1000 kilometres from Ballarat to Sydney, and his family have been granted permanent visas.
Mr Para, who had been living on a bridging visa for the past 10 years along with his family, embarked on the walk to urge Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to give refugees stranded on bridging visas a “fair go”.
Immigration lawyer Carina Ford said on Sunday the visas were granted as Mr Para neared the end of his walk.
She said he had completed his walk out of compassion for his friends, who remained in limbo.
“I am glad and grateful,” Mr Para said on Sunday.
“Thank you, Australia – now it really is my home.”
Mr Para arrived in Australia from Sri Lanka by boat in 2012 and sought protection with his wife and two daughters.
He said his family was “humbled” to have been granted permanent visas.
“We hope all will be free one day,” he said.
“We promise that we will contribute to Australia.”
The Albanese government announced in February that 19,000 refugees would be offered a path to stay in Australia.
The decision resolved the status of temporary protection and safe haven enterprise visa holders who arrived in Australia by boat before 2014.
Mr Para was one of about 12,000 people who did not qualify, leaving him in limbo.
More than 10,000 refugees rejected under the previous government’s fast-track process remain on bridging or expired visas.
Also missing out were more than 1000 people transferred to Australia from offshore detention in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
Mr Para said refugees had much to give.
“We look forward to working, not walking,” he said.