A family that has lived and worked in Australia for 18 years is deported after being defrauded by an immigration officer.
Wonsang Lee, his partner Soonyoung Park and their children Sojung, 25, and Donghoon, 23, have lived in Melbourne since 2005.
Mr Lee applied for permanent residency in 2016, but his application was rejected after his migration agent disappeared with the family’s $20,000.
They have begged Immigration Secretary Andrew Giles for ministerial intervention as they now face the prospect of being returned to South Korea.
Sojung is the only family member allowed to stay in Australia as he has been granted permanent residency, meaning he can be left alone in the country.
A family living in Australia since 2005 face deportation after being defrauded of $20,000 and given a chance to get a permanent visa by their migration agent (pictured)
The family started with one Change.org petition asking Mr Giles to personally consider their situation.
“We’ve built a life here in Australia, and leaving would mean leaving behind the place we’ve called home for nearly 20 years,” Lee wrote.
Mr. Lee recently worked as a travel agent after years as a bus driver, while Ms. Park has worked as a registered nurse for over a decade.
Sojung also resembles her mother, studying to be a nurse and working long hours on the front lines during the Covid pandemic.
“This situation has caused significant stress and emotional hardship for my family and me as we have lost precious time and our only real chance to become permanent residents,” Mr Lee wrote.
“We came to this country with dreams and aspirations to build a meaningful and committed life in a place that values freedom, respect and equal opportunity.
“Australia has become our home and we have contributed to this society through our work and our daily lives.”
The father begged for help from Australians as his family fears being separated around the world.
“We depend on each other for mental and social support, and it would be a difficult situation for my daughter to remain alone in Australia,” Lee wrote.
The petition currently has more than 11,000 signatures of the goal of 15,000.
They have called on Immigration Minister Andrew Giles (pictured) to intervene on immigration status so they can continue to live in Australia
Mr Lee explained that he applied for an Employer Nomination Scheme visa in 2016.
He claimed his migration officer ran off with the $20,000 after preparing fraudulent visa forms that she said had been submitted to the Immigration Department.
The migration agent registration was reportedly canceled in April 2016 by the Department of Immigration’s Professional Standards and Integrity Office following another case of fraud in 2014, Announce sun reported.
The department said the officer produced “fraudulent department correspondence” and engaged in conduct of an “extremely serious nature.”
The Lee family has received support from two MPs, including Labor Party member Ged Kearney and Liberal Party member Michael Sukkar, in their bid to stay in Australia.
The family has two possible options for visas, another three month bridging visa, which would give them time to apply for a parent visa.
However, it can take more than a decade for a parent visa to be processed, meaning the family will have to move back to South Korea, where the visa may not be granted.
“We call on the Minister of Immigration, Andrew Giles, Member of Parliament to consider our case with compassion and empathy so that we can continue to live in Australia as a family,” Lee wrote.
“This is our last hope and chance, our future as a family is at stake.”