Couples Christmas dashed by deportation fears

Larnook newlyweds Andy and Georgina Gough (pictured) approach Christmas with the threat of possible detention and deportation hanging over Georginas head after the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) last week declined her application for a spouse visa.

It was love at first sight for the pair, who met last year and almost immediately began planning their life together, with Georgina moving into Andys home at Larnook just one month later.

Georgina was enrolled to study at Southern Cross University, however her father, who was visiting from the UK, had a heart attack and she withdrew from the course.

The decision to refuse the spouse visa was based on a decision not to waive a Schedule 3 requirement that the applicant must hold a substantive visa at the time of application, said Andy, who is the Lismore Greens candidate for the state election and works part-time as a graphic designer with The Northern Rivers Echo.

He said if Georgina had not withdrawn from university she would have held a substantive student visa.

Dads heart attack happened the day before I was going to start university and threw everything into turmoil, said Georgina. After he got out of hospital he came to stay with us and I was caring for him, so I had neither the time nor the emotional clarity to begin university.

Meanwhile, the $6000 she had earmarked for her university fees has now been spent $2000 on the failed spouse visa application and the remainder on upgrading the couples solar-power system and staging their August wedding.

The couple say they have tried to do the right thing throughout the process, including countless trips to DIMA offices in Southport and Brisbane. However Georgina, a UK citizen, now has to leave the country by December 28 unless an appeal is lodged, which would cost $1400.

The couple dont have any savings left and have since asked the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT) to waive the appeal fees on the grounds of financial hardship.

Georgina said she understands that DIMA has a job to do and is happy to abide by the rules and study or work and do all the things an Australian citizen would do.

It is just such a faceless and rigid process and they dont take into account life circumstances, she said. I just think this is a classic case of flawed policy which shows no compassion for real people. Going back to England would be my worst nightmare. I just cant imagine being separated from the man I love, who Im ready to build a home and family with.

Georgina and Andy are now waiting to hear if the MRT will waive the appeal fees. If it does, it could still take up to 40 weeks for the case to be heard.

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