27 November 2008

Minister's appeal for doctor's Australian visa unsuccessful

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Evans released a statement yesterday regarding the appeal of a German family's application for Australian permanent residency.

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.

Dr Moeller and his family moved to Horsham, Victoria two years ago to work as a specialist doctor in rural Australia on the temporary skilled migration program.  The DIAC refused both applications for permanent residency on the grounds of Dr Moeller's 13-year-old son, Lukas, who has Down syndrome.

Consideration of high-cost medical conditions is mandatory for Australian visa applications.  If a visa applicant has a serious medical condition, 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.  However, in cases where applicants are successfully filling skills shortages in Australia or where they have compelling or compassionate circumstances, the DIAC can grant a waiver.

Senator Evans said in his statement he considered all circumstances, and because of the compelling situation, he felt the Moeller "family are making a very valuable contribution in their local community.  Dr Moeller is providing a much-needed service in the area, the family have integrated well and have substantial community support, including of course from the Victorian Premier, the local member Mr Forrest and a range of parliamentarians."

Because of the situation, Senator Evans has urged states and territories to amend Migration Regulations so that cases such as this may have a health requirement waiver.

"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," Senator Evans 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," he 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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