Pakistani student Hassan Asif has died with his mother and brother by his side following a battle with the Department of Immigration to bring them to Australia before it was too late.
MELBOURNE (Australia) – A Pakistani student suffering from cancer has died surrounded by his family, who said they “lost hope” after initially being refused entry to Australia.
Hassan Asif, 25, who came to Australia on a student visa, died at a Melbourne hospice on Wednesday.
His brother Rameez Asif and his mother initially had their applications for a visa denied, but arrived in Australia on December 29 following a decision by the Australian High Commission to grant them visitor visas.
He was reunited with his mother and brother just days earlier, after the Turnbull government backflipped on its decision to deny them visas, sparking a public outcry.
Hassan Asif came to Australia as a student before being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
In a statement, Melbourne City Mission said Hassan’s brother Rameez and his mother were with Hassan when he died, and “had been a constant and loving presence by his side since arriving in Australia” on December 29.
On behalf of his mother and family in the Pakistan city of Lahore, Rameez expressed thanks for the care and support Hassan received in Melbourne, and for the chance to be reunited with Hassan in his final days.
“It was like a dream come true to be with Hassan. We literally lost hope when our visas got rejected but we still made it to Australia,” he said.
Hassan was diagnosed with advanced skin cancer or metastatic melanoma in April, after travelling to Australia to study architecture in 2014.
He wanted to go back to Pakistan to be with his family, but was unable to fly on commercial airlines because his illness was too advanced.
The Department of Immigration initially rejected visas for his mother and brother, saying that because of information provided in their application, the pair were considered at risk of overstaying their visa.
After a groundswell of criticism, the decision was later overturned by the Australian High Commission and his family arrived on December 29 on visitor visas.
On Wednesday, Melbourne City Mission confirmed Asif had died with his brother and mother close by.
“Rameez Asif advised that his brother Hassan died at a Melbourne hospice this morning,” Melbourne City Mission spokesman Brett Long said.
“Both Rameez and his mother were with Hassan when he passed, and had been a constant and loving presence by his side since arriving in Australia from Pakistan.”
Hassan’s brother Rameez said he grateful for the chance to be with Hassan in his final days.
Mr Asif had been receiving outreach palliative care but recently moved to a specialist medical facility when his condition deteriorated.
He was too sick to fly home to Pakistan, where he had once hoped to return and begin work as an architect.
He wished to spend his final days with his family, but the Australian High Commission initially rejected their visa applications.
The Department of Immigration said based on the information provided in their application, the pair were considered at risk of overstaying their visa.
Labor’s immigration spokesman Richard Marles last month described the decision as “disgraceful and heartless” and called on Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to intervene.
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After a public outcry in Australia and overseas, the government asked Mr Asif’s family to reapply for their visas, which included information about their finances and support from the local Pakistani community during their stay. The visas were then approved.
Hassan’s family have extended an open invitation to all those who would like to attend his funeral and pay their final respects to him.
A funeral service will take place on Thursday, January 7 from noon at Preston Mosque, 90 Cramer Street, Preston.
Community members intending to attend the funeral service are advised that the dress code in the mosque is modest attire.