Christmas has been cancelled for a Sydney family of six who have been given one month to leave the country after appeals to stay were rejected, The Catholic Weekly reports.
The Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Alex Hawke, notified Ricky and Linda Morales and their four children that he had decided to not to intervene in their appeal for permanent residency, following an initial rejection based on what they say was a clerical error.
The St Paul the Apostle Winston Hills parishioners received the shock news last week, giving them just one month to get out of the country after years of living on three-month temporary visas.
The decision was made even more devastating after they were last month prevented from travelling back to Singapore under the terms of their visa when Mrs Morales' father fell suddenly ill and then died.
“Linda’s father passed away last month, and we couldn’t travel back to see him," Mr Morales said. “Now we get something like this just before Christmas.”
The family say their initial application contained an administrative error made by their then migration agent.
Mr Morales, who has been seamlessly employed in the oil and gas industry since he arrived, received the news that his initial application had been rejected two weeks after he turned 50 – the cut-off age for applying for permanent residency under a 457 visa.
“Everybody we met said you will definitely get an ok,” Mr Morales said. “It wasn’t like we were sick and couldn’t get in and we were trying to appeal. It was just that small error. We really can’t get our heads around it.”
Responding to The Catholic Weekly’s questions, a spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said that the case has been “comprehensively assessed by the Department and the Assistant Minister”.
“Ministerial intervention is not an extension of the visa process. A person who has been refused a visa and has unsuccessfully sought merits review is able to write to the Assistant Minister and request intervention, however the Assistant Minister cannot be compelled to exercise his powers and he is not required to explain his decisions on any case."
Catholic family told to get out, weeks before Christmas (The Catholic Weekly)