28 April 2011

Filipino doctor and terminally ill wife granted Australian visa

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A Filipino doctor and his family who had been told that he and his family would not be able to stay in Australia unless he divorced his terminally ill wife have now all been granted permanent Australia visas by Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.

Dr Cesar Sofocado is a resident of rural Western Australia. He had initially moved there from the Philipines to help fill a skills shortage, taking a position at Ellenbrook Medical Centre and applying for Australian permanent residency in 2008.

However, a year later, his wife Mary was diagnosed with breast cancer which has since become terminal.  As a result, the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) informed Dr Sofocado that his family's Australian visa application would be rejected due to Mrs Sofocado's terminal illness.

They allegedly went on to explain that he and his two daughters, aged 10 and 13, could still potentially receive Australian permanent residency, but only if he divorced or legally separated from Mrs Sofocado, which would force her to leave Australia and return to the Philipines.

However, Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen stepped in to use the powers assigned to him through the Migration Act to grant Dr Sofocado and his family visas, citing "compelling circumstances" in their case.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their Australian visa application.

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