In principle, I have no problem with the concept of user pays. I have a major problem if someone takes money and I get nothing for it.
There are costs involved in applying for visas. Here I am looking at Partner Visas for Australia. The current fees are set out below (current as at January 1, 2013).
The fees booklet is found at http://www.immi.gov.au/allforms/pdf/990i.pdf
I have a story to share that came to my notice last night. One of the readers of Love versus Goliath (the book) told me he knew how we felt. He was made to feel like a criminal for falling in love with an “Evil Oriental”.
Was this last year? Five years ago?
It was the early 1990s. Let us say twenty years ago in round figures. Twenty years ago and NOTHING HAS CHANGED!!!
Yes, I accept our case was slightly more unusual because Mr O was an asylum seeker. However, citizens DO have rights. This reader and myself had rights.
I asked him to write a guest article for this website. I found his response VERY SAD.
“I would love to, but after reading yours, too many emotions have surfaced and I don’t think I would have your strength to do it.”
The pain of his experience, after twenty years, is still so powerful the emotions were caused to resurface by his reading our experience.
I have chosen not to identify our reader here. He has experienced enough pain already.
At what point does one just give up the fight against injustice? One minute I think it is just about my case so what the hell, just give up. Then I remind myself it isn’t just about me, it is about all the others out there, not just in Australia but globally. I remember the poor young father who ended up committing suicide fighting the USA system. I wrote about it somewhere but I can’t find it now – too many articles here to search through. The cases become more numerous as the population of the world becomes more mobile. Legislation doesn’t keep up with the the realities of life.
It seems I fight alone, however, and that is damn hard work. I don’t mean alone when we were fighting for the visa, we had a wonderful support team then. I mean now, fighting for recovery of the costs of the fight. It is impossible, really, to fight on alone, but there is no more money to fund yet another legal battle. Justice, it seems, is only available to those who can afford justice.
The other day I wrote:
Paper warfare. It becomes paper warfare and I understand why people just give up. Let Goliath win. The battle for fairness, respect and recompense is just too hard, takes too much time, too much effort. We poor taxpayers have jobs to go to, children to raise, homes to run. Battling Goliath just becomes another problem we don’t need, so we give up and they win. So it continues and nothing changes.
Today I feel like giving up. I feel I am just fighting a losing battle. This was said to me today, “ … it’s the Australian people you are contending with. Politicians reflect sentiment“. True statement perhaps, when you consider this comment, below, I received on this site some time ago and didn’t allow through moderation. I was never going to publish it, but it fits with the statement made to me today, “politicians reflect sentiment”. Read more
A shorter version of this article by me has previously been published on Independent Australia, titled “Toss a coin, get a visa”
During 2010 – 2011 I fought a mammoth battle against the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). My husband, a removed asylum seeker, applied for a partner visa: I was his sponsor.
The visa was denied, I appealed and the decision was remitted back to DIAC. The visa was subsequently granted. I strongly believe the original decision was wrong; wrong due to defective administration. There were factual errors together with strains of both racism and sexism, amongst other issues. I will give one example. One of the reasons given was that my husband had not sent me any money. Let me share the reality. My husband had been kept in Australia for two years with no working rights and was returned to a third world country; he had four children to take care of and was in hiding. I am professionally qualified and employed in a first world country, yet he was supposed to send me money? I am positive had my husband been the wife and I the husband, this “reason” would not have been considered or mentioned. He had been back in his country a whole two months when we lodged the application. A person with NO complications would find it hard to find accommodation, employment and set themselves up within TWO months! We had complications!
I will say once I appealed, thankfully our case was resolved in an acceptable timeframe. This doesn’t mean the original decision wasn’t defective. It doesn’t mean the whole process didn’t cost us thousands of dollars we should not have needed to spend.
When I discovered there is an avenue for claiming minimal compensation, a scheme for Compensation for Detriment due to Defective Administration (CDDA), I lodged a claim. I lodged a claim for about half of what I estimate I should be able to claim. Why only half? Not knowing this process was available, I never kept a detailed record or receipts for every expense. The scheme is limited to financial loss, aimed to place the claimant back in to the financial position they would have been in had the defective administration not occurred. Nothing for pain and suffering, lost sick leave, lost holidays, fear or trauma.
I didn’t claim for the decisions related to my husband’s protection visa, it was just all too hard. I want to make clear the fact I didn’t try to claim for that period is not an indication of how I feel about that decision. Sometimes it just isn’t worth the fight emotionally or psychologically.
Overnight I received a very touching email. I asked permission to share part of that email.
There have been many nights during which I have been so afraid of getting a refusal and couldn’t sleep, and times when I was afraid that all the difficulties we faced would prove stronger than we were. During those times, your blog was one of those sites I would read to calm myself down and find, somehow, the will and hope to go on.
Thank you so much for doing what you do and providing hope and encouragement to so many people who are facing the immense task of migration. I wish you and your family all the best.
I am very glad the writer found the strength to continue and I feel humbled I was able to contribute in some small way.
Recently I asked a regular reader of this website what else she would like to see me write about as she expressed how helpful she had found other articles I had written.
She responded, on Why do I do this?:
In my humble opinion, I think the Statutory Declarations and Relationship Statements would be good. I, myself found that a lot of people don’t know what to write. When I sat down the other day and wrote my Relationship statement, I started writing and didn’t stop, because I kept thinking I should put this in or that, or what if they ask me about this and it just kept going.
My husband on the other hand is even more direct than me, he kept it simple and to the point.
I also receive a LOT of search terms seeking examples of Statements of Relationship, so given Yolanda’s request, here are my thoughts. As usual, I must remind all readers I am not a migration agent and these articles DO NOT constitute formal or legal advice. If you have any concerns about aspects of your application, you should seek professional advice. My articles are merely intended to assist those trying to understand the bureaucratic paper warfare and point to references that may be useful!
This article also does NOT necessarily apply to arranged marriages. I have no idea how a Statement of Relationship for an arranged marriage should be approached. Also, this article is about the statements for the initial application, NOT the Statutory Declarations for the second stage processing (the final grant of permanent residency, sub-class 100).
While I have mentioned the Relationship History before, in Applying for a Partner Visa? (Suggestion Number 2), I haven’t gone into a lot of detail. The reason I haven’t is because every relationship is unique. What I wrote about my own relationship would be entirely irrelevant for Yolanda’s relationship, for example.