The first Syr­ian refugees under new fast-track arrangements could be in Australia by Christmas

Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty.

Under the expanded refugee intake, introduced by the Abbott government, Middle Eastern migrants in Australia will be able to fast-track places for relatives displaced in Syria.

As part of the expanded program, Australia’s humanitarian intake of refugees has increased from 13,750 people for 2015-16 to 25,750 in the next 18 months.

John Moorhouse, who is leading the operation, says Australian relatives of Syrian refugees would be able to apply to nominate them through the humanitarian program launched by former prime minister Abbott.

“It’s an opportunity for people onshore who have relatives in a refugee camp to draw them to our attention,” he told The Australian.

Along with these people, priority will also be given to those seen to have suffered the most.

And despite talks around only accepting refugees of a certain faith, according to the ABC, specific religions are not being given greater priority over others.

All refugees will have to pass security checks and have no criminal record.

The Immigration Department is doubling its staff on the ground in the Middle East to process the 12,000 refugees as quickly as possible. Interviews have already began and the first arrivals could be resettled in Australia some time after November.

Read more here.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.