Safe escape to Australia turned down by a biased decision

A Chinese man who had travelled to Australia as a “boat person” was seeking refugee status. In fact, he was one of a group of refugee applicants who were Attorney Rickard’s very first clients, way back in 1992.

Australian Immigration Lawyers – core reason for our service

This client’s situation had a profound effect on Mr. Rickard and changed the course of his professional life and was instrumental in the start of our migration business. More on that in a future case study.

This Chinese man was one of a family of 9 who had arrived in Darwin, not far from Indonesia on the far north coast of Australia, having navigated a long and dangerous voyage from southern China on a small unsafe boat.

Apart from anything else, the client had a large birthmark covering about one third of his face which was impossible not to notice.

Of course the man was very self-conscious about it, but it was not a dangerous or infectious thing and had nothing to do with his legitimate claim for Australian government protection from the Chinese authorities’ persecution back in his homeland.

After visiting the client and his family many times in the refugee camp in Darwin, the visa applicant was represented by a colleague of Attorney Rickard’s who had taken his instructions and then presented his legal arguments to the immigration department officials in Darwin.

Then a decision was made to refuse his application by the immigration case officer. Some of the visa applicant’s remaining 8 family members were represented by Attorney Rickard and he was well aware of this client’s unique situation.

This Visa refusal was no ordinary refusal

The case officer from Canberra had written his decision in his Darwin hotel room and then personally delivered it in an envelope by hand to another lawyer colleague of Attorney Rickards’ in that lawyer’s hotel room in the same hotel.

This was done without the client knowing, all highly unusual and / or legally inappropriate to say the least.

Unfortunately for the client and the case officer, the case officer had handed over his draft decision and not the final one.

It was obviously a draft because throughout the decision was interlaced filthy racist and virulent personal abuse of the visa applicant on the basis of his being Chinese and having a disfiguring birth mark over a large section of his face.

The abuse was so personal and offensive that it was shocking that was even written by an adult, let alone a responsible government official.

Unfortunately for the poor client, the lawyer who received the decision on the visa applicant’s behalf, read it and then, in what he thought was an act of professional chivalry, handed it back to the immigration officer asking him politely to remove all the abuse and give it back to him rewritten and sanitised.

This was a ridiculous, unprofessional, timid and ignorant action by that lawyer acting for the visa applicant.

Immigration point worth noting

As almost happens, the visa applicant had virtually no power in dealing with the immigration department. Here the client did not know that the case officer was so biased against him on the basis of his race and personal appearance that he had not even the slightest chance of a fair visa decision.

This was exacerbated when the visa applicant’s own lawyer did not know how to deal with the situation nor how to protect his rights.

The client was in fact the very essence of vulnerable and without protection when he needed it the most and in fact had risked his very life for such protection from the Australian government.

Now obviously, not all migration officers in Australia are as bad as this one was, but the potential is there always. All visa applicants do not know what is really in the minds of their migration case officer, nor can any of them assume they will get a fair and unbiased decision on their application.

Our legal and strategic advice to the visa applicant would have been that the lawyer representing the client should have kept the draft decision, made a copy and secured it in a safe place, had the immigration department officer taken off the case immediately, had the decision voided and or used as an appeal for a new decision with a new case officer and or take the matter straight to court (perhaps via the media).

The case officer should also have been dismissed from his position as he was clearly unfit to do his job.

How you can benefit from our migration law advice as the visa applicant from China could have

In conclusion – you never know when you will need aggressive legal intervention on your behalf, especially if you are in a genuine situation of urgent need and want an important visa for Australia.

It is not only vital that you back up your claims with evidence which deals with any claims you make but you must also ensure you know all that is going on with your application and your case officer as you simply cannot trust or assume everything is being done right and in your best interests.

You must also ensure you have an excellent channel of communication with the immigration department officer who is handling your case via your lawyer and or registered migration agent and give the department every reason to fear very big legal trouble if they do not do their job properly.

Your chances of obtaining an Australian visa when you want are always greatly improved when you obtain well researched and finely argued migration advice and assistance in your visa application.