Please review visa application refused for daughter's health without prior criteria advice
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I am a Pakistani Engineer working in Middle East. My application for immigration visa under subclass 189 has been recently refused citing health condition of my daughter. No review rights have been provided. Every country has the right to safeguard the interests of its citizens by applying appropriate filters in its immigration process. However, it is also unethical to lure applicants in investing time and money into an immigration process without disclosing key criteria to them and later refusing their applications based on the same undisclosed criteria. As I experienced, Australian immigration process has this anomaly at two places.
First of all, I was not provided with enough information about critical health screening criteria at the time of filling up EOI or lodging visa application (upon department's invitation). Although a term "Significant Cost" has been mentioned in the portal but without any explanation as to how this can be calculated. Even in the refusal letter, no breakup or calculation of so called 'significant cost' has been provided which is used as the basis to disqualify my daughter and therefore, the entire family. As I have learned from my own experience with the department that there is a strong policy of filtering kids with developmental delays. I should have been informed about this in clear terms so that I could make a conscious decision before investing so much time and money into this process.
Secondly, the Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC) in his/her opinion has asserted that my daughter has a permanent condition which will require long term support costing "significantly". This opinion has been based on some classified "guidance notes" and "hypothetical persons test" and reports that I supplied after the initial MOC objection. Since there was no specific instruction along with initial objection from MOC I arranged fresh medical reports from several specialists (in extremely short time window) own my own whim. The MOC maintained an opinion of her permanent disability out of it and with which I do not agree. Amani is my youngest among three kids, she is 4 years old, was born premature, after difficult start she is catching up. She has perfect limbs, is able to speak, play with toys, and in groups, eats, drinks, moves around and interacts with everyone and everything around. In-fact, since initial objection of MOC, she has continued to improve in every aspect. In the last few weeks she has started to walk with a walker and progressed from speaking single words to small sentences. Since she has displayed enough interactive intelligence so we are planning to get her enrolled into a school. I have been compiling a video library of my daughter's improving condition which indicates her progress towards a normal and independent life. See . Please judge yourself if any assertion about her 'severe' condition is justified. Or the improvement observed between Sept 2016 and March 2017 justify any attribute of permanent condition? Opinion of MOC on the other hand reflect that they are not subject matter expert or perhaps constrained by some bureaucratic framework.
The issues I have raised above are not unique as many other parents are also suffering. These flaws are well known to the extent that Joint Standing Committee on Migration has made several recommendations to correct them. (See Appendix and Reference ). Please note the issues I highlighted are in sync with these recommendations.
I and my family have been subjected to significant distress on account of flaws in immigration process. I am not referring to debate on the moral justification of discriminating against persons with disability. My argument is that it is unethical to conceal a critical screening criteria thus compelling me to submit an application (plus fee) and later refusing it on the basis of same undisclosed parameter. It also unethical to refuse an application citing significant health cost while taking ten thousand dollars as direct and indirect fee and giving no review rights. An amount I could have spent on my kids including the one they themselves assessed to be permanently disabled!! If there is such sensitivity to kids with health issue than why not tell the prospective applicant upfront before taking visa fee? If there is a failure in information disclosure than affected applicants should be compensated.
In this context, I request a review right for my case and direct evaluation of my daughter from subject matter health experts.
I and my wife are dedicated parents who have struggled so hard in turning around this child from her initial prognosis. Now that she is on her way to an independent life, I was able to focus on a long standing dream to immigrate and give my kids a stable environment to grow and flourish. But Alas. Although I was able to substantiate all claims made in EOI but had not way of knowing undisclosed filters without going through the process. This was my last window to immigrate as I have lost critical points on age during this process.
Kids with various forms of development delays, and their parents are in need of your support that can trigger humanization of decision making process.
Please, please, please support this cause. My daughter is not permanently disabled. She is catching up and will live an independent life. All major expenditure on her health issues have already been made. She will not cost the tax payers significantly. Otherwise an uncertain future will be forced upon my family in view of economic turmoil and degrading geopolitical situation of my current options.
Committee Recommendations (Source  above)
"The Committee recommends that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship make the current ‘Notes for Guidance’ publicly available. It further recommends that, when such papers are revised, their updated version be placed on the Department’s website as soon as possible. ‘Notes for Guidance’ and associated background information should also be referred to in the Department’s Fact Sheets for prospective visa applicants."
"The Committee recommends that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship publish on the Department’s website the cost calculation methodology used by Medical Officers of the Commonwealth in assessing the costs associated with diseases or conditions under the Health Requirement."
"The Committee recommends that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship provide each applicant with a detailed breakdown of their assessed costs associated with diseases or conditions under the Health Requirement"
"The Committee recommends that the Australian Government remove from the Migration Regulations 1994 the criterion under Public Interest Criteria005, 4006A and 4007 which states that costs will be assessed ‘regardless of whether the health care or community services will actually be used in connection with the applicant.’ The Committee also recommends that the Australian Government revise the approach which assesses visa applicants’ possible health care and service needs against ‘the hypothetical person test’. This test should be revised so that it reflects a tailored assessment of individual circumstances in relation to likely healthcare and service use."
"The Committee recommends that the Australian Government amend Regulation 2.25A of the Migration Regulations 1994 in a manner which does not bind the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship to take as final the decision of a Medical Officer of the Commonwealth in relation to ‘significant cost’ and ‘prejudice to access’ issues, and provides scope for Ministerial intervention."
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