MAROONED: Couple trapped in visa limbo fight for survival

 

A BRITISH citizen stranded in a 'dire situation' is calling on the government to treat temporary visa workers the same as regular Australians as he fights for survival.

Sam Hearn moved to Australia over four and a half years ago on a working holiday visa and for the majority of that time worked at the same cocktail bar and restaurant in Melbourne.

When things became 'extremely tough' in Victoria due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Hearn decided to look elsewhere Down Under for a fresh start.

The 27-year-old jumped at the chance to apply for a vacant manager's position at the The Ville Resort-Casino, even though it meant moving to the other end of the country.

After two interviews Mr Hearn was offered the position, and so he and his partner packed up their lives and relocated to Queensland.

"The Ville was more than happy to sponsor my visa," Mr Hearn said.

"This should have been a simple transfer from a business in Melbourne to Townsville.

"In order to make this happen myself and my partner had to immediately pack up our house and leave.

"Within the week we had left, flown into Brisbane for our mandatory self-funded quarantine and I had submitted all the paperwork for my Visa nomination.

"Usually the nomination is approved within the week, the visa itself could take months, but at least I would be able to work."

Fast forward eight weeks and Mr Hearn's nomination for a 482 temporary skilled shortages visa is still yet to be approved.

"As a temporary visa holder I am expected to be able to support myself throughout the duration of my stay in this country and the length of time for which I have the visa," he said. "But no person could survive this long without being able to work, provided no government support or granted early access to their superannuation.

"We have had to rebuild our entire lives from scratch on a budget, find living accommodation, transport, furnish our residence and feed ourselves with the belief that I would be working almost immediately.

"This has not been the case and the further emotional, physical and financial toll has left us at breaking point.

"I always am and always will remain a very positive person with my situation, as I know myself how fortunate I am given the current climate, but it does feel as if I am being unfairly pushed aside to prevent me from taking up employment."

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Mr Hearn has taken aim at the federal government for abandoning temporary visa workers while Australian citizens have been able to access JobKeeper and JobSeeker schemes.

"Since living in Australia I have been working 45 hours a week and paying my taxes to the full," he said.

"I have leased several houses across Melbourne, never being arrears of rent, held positive accounts with several utility providers and banks, all the while putting my annual earnings directly back into the Australian economy.

"The difficulty we face is that as long as JobSeeker remains in place for Australian residents and not temporary visa holders we will suffer.

"It makes it hard for us to regain or resume employment as we are classed as an extra expense to the business."

The Ville CEO Michael Jones said his business was suffering as a result of Mr Hearn not gaining clearance to work.

"We don't understand why the department is taking so long to get this approved," Mr Jones said.

"We were thrilled to secure someone of Sam's experience, after a lengthy local recruitment process, and every day this drags on it's affecting our business and taking a huge toll on Sam and his partner's lives."

Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge has been contacted for comment.

Originally published as MAROONED: Couple trapped in visa limbo fight for survival



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