Humanitarian visas have been cut to 750 places making it even more difficult for residents trying to bring out persecuted family members to Australia.

Only 149 places remain for the next months even though there are currently 20,500 people seeking special humanitarian visas.

The change in the program by the Federal Govermenment has direct links to the increase in boat arrivals but the Refugee Council of Australia wants the government to scrap the program that sees every visa granted to a boat arrival means one place is lost from the special humanitarian program.

The council has told the government that by linking the two programs, they have caused “tensions and frustrations” between community groups and families which in turn is making refugee families here in Australia consider sending persecuted family members to the county by boat.

In a briefing paper, the Immigration Department has warned the special humanitarian program ”is facing the greatest pressure since its inception” and this year is ”likely to be the smallest program in 30 years”.