A Filipino skilled worker and his family will be waiting for a decision from the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen if they can stay in Australia with permanent residency visa on compassionate grounds.
With a permanent visa, the 40-year old Filipino worker, Emilio Andalan, will be able to continue to provide and care for his family, particularly the needs of his wife Rowena, who is a terminally-ill breast cancer patient.
Emilio is a heavy duty diesel fitter who arrived in Australia in June 2008 on s457 visa to work in Waroona, Western Australia under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.
In September 2010, his wife Rowena, and two children, Roselle and Adrian, joined him through a family extension visa. In August 2011, Emilio lodged their application for permanent residency visa with support from Emilio’s employer.
In December 2011, the Medical Officer of the Commonwealth issued an assessment that Rowena, who was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, “does not meet Public Interest Criterion(s) 4007” under the Migration Regulations Act.
“A person with such a disease or condition would be likely to require health care or community services… and provision of such health care or community services relating to the disease would be likely to result in a significant cost to the Australian community,” the CMO report stated, adding that the cost to the Australian community is $80,000.
Last week, the Filipino Community Council of Western Australia (FCCWA) sent a letter of appeal to Minister Bowen to grant the Andalans permanent visa on compassionate grounds.
“The Filipino Community Council of Western Australia lnc. seeks your compassion to alleviate the distress of the family of Emilio Andalan, particularly his wife, Rowena, who is terminally ill of breast cancer,” wrote the FCCWA.
FCCWA secretary and Migrante Australia spokesperson Carmelita Baltazar said: “Emilio’s case is very similar to that of Dr. Sofocado’s family last year”.
The case of Dr Cesar Sofocado became a national news and went viral when he was advised by his Immigration case officer that his visa application can only be approved if he divorced his wife Mary who was terminally-ill of breast cancer. Dr Sofocado fought his case until Minister Bowen intervened and granted Dr Sofocado and his family permanent visa. Sadly, Mary Sofocado passed away in December 2011.
“They are both skilled migrants who came to Australia in search of better future for their families,” Ms Baltazar continued.
“The sad thing is their wives were diagnosed with breast cancer while their permanent visa applications were being considered by DIAC.
“The Minister intervened on the case of Dr. Sofocado in the absence of a health waiver and on compassionate grounds. However, Emilio has a health waiver for skilled visa application and if unsuccessful, can appeal the decision to the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT).”
Ms. Baltazar commented, “FCCWA and Migrante hope that the Minister will look into the matter with compassion as the case of Rowena, like Mary Sofocado, is also rare and urgent.”
“We hope the Minister will act promptly to lessen the impact of trauma of losing a wife and mother to Andalan’s children.”
In a phone interview with this website, Emilio said that he could only hope and pray that Minister Bowen grants his request for the sake of his two children.
He added: “We have only until next week, April 3, to complete our Health Waiver submission, and after that I really don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The FCCWA has also commenced a mail out for additional signatories to the petition.
To support Emilio and his family, please click here.