Despite being born to Australian parents, Gracee Broom is classified as a US citizen and must have an Australia visa to travel there.
10 April 2012
‘Million dollar’ baby sets off Australia visa row
A baby girl's premature birth in the US has left her Australian parents facing a lengthy fight for an Australia visa as well as up to $1 million dollars in medical fees.
Sonja and Brett Broom were enjoying the 'honeymoon they never had' with a cruise in the US when Sonja, just six months pregnant at the time, went into labour and delivered Gracee Broom, weighing just 765g (27 oz) on 12, February. However, despite being born to Australian parents, Gracee is not an Australian citizen and now her parents have to secure an Australia visa before being allowed to take their baby home.
As Australian law defines only those born in the country as citizens, Sonja Broom has had to remain in Orlando, Florida to care for her daughter while Brett Broom has returned to Brisbane to take care of the couple's other children, Jack, 3 and William, 22 months.
And while the Brooms face what could be a lengthy process with Australian immigration officials to secure the necessary documentation for their daughter, the Brooms' insurance company is refusing to cover their mounting medical costs.
Sonja Broom had been given clearance to travel due to her previous two pregnancies being full term but their insurer, AAMI, defines pregnancy as a pre-existing condition and therefore does not cover it in their policy cover.
Due to Gracee's premature birth and how underweight she is, she requires round the clock care despite doubling her weight.
With her medical bills already totalling AU$300,000 and the prospect of another 60-80 days in hospital while her condition is monitored, the Broom's total bill is expected to surpass AU$1 million before she is well enough to travel.
Gracee's Appeal, a Facebook campaign has been set up to help the Brooms cope with the cost and raise awareness of the issue.
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian High Commission.