27 November 2008

Evans urges Australian states, territories to amend migration regulations

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In response to the case of a German family applying for Australian permanent residency last month, the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, has urged state and territory leaders to amend the Migration Regulations.

Two years ago, a German doctor and his family moved to Australia (Horsham, Victoria) on temporary Australian visas.  Since then, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) have twice rejected the family's applications for permanent residency on the grounds of the health of one of its members, Lukas, who has Down syndrome.

Due to Migration Regulations, the Moeller family cannot become permanent residents or citizens of Australia because of the financial burden Lukas may impose on the Australian healthcare system.

Consideration of high-cost medical conditions is mandatory for Australian visa applications, and immigration officers need to assess the implicated costs in terms of medical, pharmaceutical and community services, home and community care, income support and special educational needs, before granting a visa for Australia

This week, Senator Evans announced to the Senate he felt the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) should reconsider the family's twice-rejected application for permanent residency in Australia. 

Senator Evans had a request from Dr Moeller to intervene in the case, and his office contacted the family to inform them that he had granted permanent visas for his family.  However, after the fact, Senator Evans became aware that he cannot intervene until a Court or tribunal takes action against the DIAC's decision to refuse an Australian visa application.

Because of this, the Minister urged the state and territorial governments this week to amend Migration Regulations so that some applications for permanent Australian visas can have a waiver for the health requirement.

If the government implements the changes, all onshore applications for permanent Australian visas for persons or their dependents who do not meet the health requirements for regional, state/territory and employer sponsored visa categories would be available.

Senator Evans said the waiver would only be used in situations of compelling circumstances or cases where a foreign national in Australia is helping to ease the skills shortage. 

"This will assist people who are who are already living and working in Australia and providing a valuable service in their community but currently are not eligible for permanency because they do not meet the health requirement," he said.

"I urge the states and territories to now agree to the enabling of these regulations to assist people seeking regional, state/territory or employer sponsored visas," Senator Evans added.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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