High Court says family should be with refugee

THE High Court has ruled against the government's application of immigration laws, yesterday overturning a decision barring the family of a refugee from joining him in Australia.
The court ruled that the Immigration Department had made an error when it did not give visas to the family of a refugee who arrived in Australia as a minor because he had turned 18 by the time his application was processed.

Sayed Abdul Rahman Shahi was 17 when he arrived on Christmas Island from Afghanistan as an unaccompanied minor in May 2009 and was granted a protection visa in September that year.
Three months later, his family applied for visas under the "split-family" visa category, but in the nine months it took the department to process the matter he turned 18 and was no longer considered a minor.
The department decided that, as Shahi was an adult, his mother ceased to be a member of his immediate family.The High Court in Canberra yesterday ruled the decision to refuse the family visas was a "jurisdictional error" that incorrectly interpreted the visa criteria.
"There is no human being that doesn't miss their family and I can't say how badly I miss my mum and siblings," Mr Shahi said.
"I offer prayer three times a day and three times a day I pray that they will get their visa. I have no other way. I have no money to find another way.
"I know there is still a procedure and more waiting and I'm still not sure that my family have their visas, which is very hard for me."
But Victoria Legal Aid yesterday said the legal battle was far from over. Legal Aid migration program manager Joel Townsend said the visa refusal would be quashed and reconsidered in light of the judgment.
"From our client's point of view, the process isn't over and it was a very technical decision by the court, so I imagine it will take some explanation," Mr Townsend said.
Immigration's legal team will examine the judgment over the coming days, as will the government, before it responds.theaustralian.com
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