The Australian Government has taken the unusual step of speaking out about the visa application of 96-year-old British woman amid claims that she is to be deported as she would be too much of a burden on the state.
‘The Australia government is not deporting nor even considering deporting Mrs. Gladys Jefferson in spite of inaccurate and misinformed media reporting and commentary today about this UK citizen’s case,’ said Chris Bowen, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship.
The great grandmother is currently living with her Bridget Grigg in Tasmania on a 12-month tourist visa and has applied for permanent residency.
‘My mother has always, always been incredibly independent. Then about 18 months ago she was talking to me on the phone one evening and she specifically asked if she could come and live with me,’ said Grigg.
Jefferson had no other family in the UK and did not want to go into a nursing home, her daughter added. As soon as she arrived, she applied for a contributory parent visa, which allows parents to join their children in Australia provided they can support themselves. Nevertheless, this has been rejected.
Bowen said that Jefferson is lawfully in Australia and currently has another visa application before the department. ‘There are no plans to remove her whatsoever. My department has been working with Mrs. Jefferson and her family to provide information on pathways that will allow her to remain lawfully in Australia,’ he explained.
‘While Mrs. Jefferson’s application for a contributory parent visa was rejected, the department was in contact with Mrs. Jefferson’s family to convey this information and advise on what other visa options she might have,’ said Bowen.
‘My department will continue to process Mrs. Jefferson’s current visa application in the normal way and to communicate the outcome to Mrs. Jefferson and her family. In the meantime, let’s be clear: Mrs. Jefferson is neither being considered for removal, nor is she being removed from Australia. She is the holder of a lawful visa and remains lawfully in Australia,’ he added.
His statement comes after there was considerable media coverage of the case which included claims that the woman was too frail to cope with a long flight back to the UK.
Bowen stressed that everyone must comply with visa rules. ‘While we sympathize with the family’s circumstances, people wanting to migrate to Australia must meet visa requirements, including the health requirement, for the department to be able to lawfully grant them a visa,’ he said.