Hassan Asif’s family visit visa application approved but raises question marks at the way visit visa applications are being assessed from Pakistan

Melbourne (By: Sarwat Hassan) – ‘We want to keep our borders safe. We want to make sure that criminals and fraudsters do not get pass the security gates. We want to make sure that those that enter Australia are able to financially provide for themselves as we do not want to lose tax payer money. We want to make sure that we protect Australia’. Yes, we have heard these lines and most Australians agree that a tough stance is necessary to protect Australian borders but what happens when genuine immigration cases are accidentally knocked back and refused.

Today, was a turbulent day filled with mixed emotions – we saw this morning across Australian national media and social media pages filled with anguish and frustration with messages of support for Hassan Asif.

Hassan Asif, at just 25-years old is battling a serious situation with the health authorities informing that he may only have a few weeks to live. Asif first came to Australia in 2014 on a student visa, before he was diagnosed with advanced metastatic melanoma – skin cancer. Facing financial burdens and no place to live he is being held by his carers at Melbourne City Mission youth homelessness refuge. His brother and mother in Pakistan were denied tourist visit visas by the Australian Immigration department to see him.

Many members of the Australian Pakistani community signed online-petitions, sending letters of request to the Australian Immigration department and creating support pages on social media that helped pave the way for Hassan Asif’s case to be noticed by the Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

Amid pressure from the public Mr Peter Dutton issued a media statement today after reviewing the case and announced that Hassan Asif’s family have been granted visit visas. However, the Australian Immigration department still said that they are going to make sure that they do not over-stay their visas and they need to still meet the relevant conditions.

It is disturbing to know that Hassan Asif’s case file could have been just shelved away in the Australian Immigration department if the case was not published in the national and international media, or discussed extensively on social media pages with online petitions being signed. How many other visit visa cases from Pakistan have been denied and were they genuine? We know that Hassan Asif’s case was approved due to compassionate grounds but there could be other cases in the past that were denied or still in the process. The question, is not just about Hassan Asif’s case but there must be a proper assessment matrix and processes for certain immigration visa cases.

Australia has a large number of migrants from across the world and people visit, study and work, and frequently travel to and from the country. It is true, that those countries labelled as High Risk have to go through essential vetting procedures and security checks that can be lengthy but it’s now time that High Risk countries should have measures or an external evaluation system in place that can be done through the applicants relevant government embassy or consulate, especially while dealing with cases on compassionate grounds.

The question here now is what statement was issued by the Australian Pakistani High Commission and Pakistani consulate in regards to the case of Hassan Asif? Can the Australian Pakistani student community turn to the Pakistani Australian High Commission for support? Why do they need to turn to external NGOs, charities, MPs and other media platforms when they have their relevant Pakistani government representative officials?

It raises a few questions and a lot to dwell upon with more research on responses but what is most important is that today is a happy day for Hassan Asif – a chance to meet his brother and mother finally and Hassan Asif says that could not have been possible and thanked the public for their support.