30 October 2008

Immigration department defends decision to refuse German doctor permanent residency in Australia

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The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has defended its decision to refuse a German doctor permanent residency in Australia after assessing his son's medical condition.

Dr Bernhard Moeller from Horsham in Victoria is currently holding a temporary visa for Australia, which expires in 2010.  DIAC has assured Dr Moeller and his family they can remain in the country until 2010, when the temporary Australian visa expires.

DIAC have maintained their decision to deny permanent residency to Dr Moeller and his family is in the best interests of the Australian community, as one of the family members did not meet the health requirements for permanent residency.  The Government maintains that the family member's medical condition will pose a long-term burden on the tax-paying community in Australia. 

"A medical officer of the Commonwealth assessed that his son's existing medical condition was likely to result in a significant and ongoing cost to the Australian community," a departmental spokesperson said in a statement.

"This is not discrimination.  A disability in itself is not grounds for failing the health requirement – it is a question of the cost implications to the community."

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.

"More than 150 000 migrants settled in Australia in 2007-08.  If we did not have a health requirement, the costs to the community and health system would not be sustainable," the spokesperson said.

Although the Government stands by their decision to refuse the doctor permanent residency rights, Dr Moeller has indicated he will seek a review of the decision through the Migration Review Tribunal.

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

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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