Lee family can stay as government bows to pressure

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Happy to be home: The Lee family display their joy at the Federal Government’s change of heart on their residency application. PHOTO: Linda Cheung

After nearly ten years of waiting in visa-limbo, the Lee family is at last able to “call Australia home”.

Following front-page coverage by The Catholic Weekly on 6 August, representation from two Melbourne MPs and advocacy from a multicultural lobby organisation the Lees received a letter granting them a Permanent Residence Visa on 10 August.

In late July, the South Korean family – David, Jessica and their three sons – were devastated to hear that their application for Permanent Residency Visa had been rejected.

Despite being law-abiding citizens and having started and run two successful business, the Lees were advised their immigration was “not in the best interest” of Australia. They were given until 28 September to leave.

“We were already extremely broken as a family,” said Jessica and after receiving the notice they were “resigned” to leaving.

“But God heard our desperate cries,” she said and “a team of angels” was sent in the strange disguise of Liberal party politicians.

Liberal MP Michael Sukkar, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, and Labor MP Julian Hill combined with Vasan Srinivasan, member of Australian Multicultural Council & Chair of Confederation Indian Association in Australia to cut through the formidable red tape of the Department of Immigration and effect a change of heart.

Their parish, St Christopher’s in Syndal – who organised the original Change.org petition to save the Lees – were overjoyed by the decision.

“It’s just such fantastic news,” said Fr Patrick Jackson, Assistant Priest at St Christopher’s.

“On Friday morning Mass they gave us a huge standing ovation when we entered the church,” said Bryan, the second eldest son.

Daniel, the eldest, outlined the gratitude of the whole family: “Thank you God so much for helping our family and bringing justice.”