At least 26 refugees and asylum seekers have been freed from a Melbourne hotel after years in immigration detention.

Some have spent more than a year detained in inner-city hotels, after being brought to Australia under the now-repealed medical evacuation (‘Medevac’) law for urgent medical treatment.

There are dozens more still being detained, many of which have cases pending in court in which they will argue they were being illegally detained.

A spokesperson for the Home Affairs Department told reporters the asylum seekers will not be allowed to stay.

“No-one who attempts illegal maritime travel to Australia will be permanently settled here,” the spokesperson said.

While Home Affairs is refusing to say what visas the men were given, they did mention final departure bridging visas, which allow temporary residence in Australia while the refugees finalise arrangements to leave.

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