Love, safety, skills, and money: four good reasons to migrate to Australia. But a happy marriage, fleeing persecution, a university place or the promise of full-time work are not enough to secure a future on our shores. That reality hinges upon securing a visa and then residency and the checks and criteria that are attached to Australia’s rigorous immigration process are nothing if not thorough.
Then there’s the competition: Every three minutes, someone gains permanent residency in Australia. But every year, over 40,000 people are rejected.
The new SBS series, Who Gets to Stay in Australia?, airing 1 July, looks at the families and individuals waiting for truly life-changing verdicts to be made by the Australian government. From married couples living on different continents to a hearing-impaired child who faces deportation, the program follows a handful of those wanting to join the 34 percent of Australia’s population over 15 years old – 6.9 million people – who were born overseas. It is a harrowing, joyful, and, at times, heartbreaking journey.
“It’s not fair,” says one Australian in the program, whose appeal to keep his Indonesian wife beside him and their one and two-year-old sons hang in the balance. His words are echoed by many in the four-part series, yet the law has little room for fairness.
While filming was completed before the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, the coronavirus crisis brings with it a new set of impacts for those hoping to call Australia home.
Leanne Stevens, a migration consultant and national vice president of the Migration Institute of Australia, has seen the Department of Home Affairs take a “very concessional” approach to individuals who are affected by factors outside their control – such as closed passport offices or delays to medical and language tests – despite the virus making an already uncertain situation even less secure for some.
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