A family who have lived and worked in Australia for 18 years face deportation after being defrauded by an immigration officer.
Wonsang Lee, his partner Soonyeong Park and their children Sojung, 25, and Donghun, 23, have lived in Melbourne since 2005.
Mr Lee applied for permanent residency in 2016 but his application was rejected after his immigration agent disappeared with $20,000 from the family.
They have requested ministerial intervention from Immigration Minister Andrew Giles as they now face the possibility of deportation to South Korea.
Sojong is the only family member allowed to stay in Australia as he has been granted permanent residency – meaning he can be allowed to live alone in the country.
A family who have lived in Australia since 2005 face deportation and the possibility of permanent visas after being scammed out of $20,000 by their immigration agent (PHOTOS)
The family started a Change.org petition urging Mr. Giles to consider their situation personally.
“We’ve built a life here in Australia, and leaving would mean leaving behind the place we’ve called home for nearly two decades,” Mr Lee wrote.
Mr. Lee recently worked as a travel agent after spending years as a bus driver, and Ms. Park spent more than a decade as a registered nurse.
Sojung also followed in her mother’s footsteps, studying to be a nurse and working long hours on the front lines throughout the Covid pandemic.
‘This situation has caused me and my family significant stress and emotional distress, as we have lost valuable time and lost 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 dedicated life in a place that values freedom, respect and equal opportunity.
‘Australia has become our home, and we contribute to this society through our work and everyday life.’
The father appealed to Australians for help as his family fears being torn apart around the world.
“We depend on each other for emotional and social support, and it would be a difficult situation for my daughter to be alone in Australia,” Mr Lee wrote.
The petition currently has more than 11,000 signatures out of its goal of 15,000.
They called on the immigration minister, Andrew Giles (pictured), to intervene in immigration status so they could continue to live in Australia.
Mr Lee explained that he applied for the Employer Nomination Scheme visa in 2016.
He claimed that his migration officer absconded with $20,000 after he forged visa forms which he claimed he had submitted to the immigration department.
The Herald Sun reported that the migration agent’s registration was revoked by the Department of Immigration’s Professional Standards and Integrity Office in April 2016 following another case of fraud in 2014.
The department said the agent produced ‘fraudulent departmental correspondence’ and exhibited behavior of a ‘very serious nature’.
The Lee family have received cross-bench support from two MPs, including Labor’s Ged Carney and Liberal Party member Michael Zucker, as they bid to stay in Australia.
Families have two possible options for visas, another is a three-month bridging visa that will give them time to apply for a parent’s visa.
However, it can take more than a decade to process a parent’s visa, which means the family has to relocate to South Korea where the visa cannot be granted.
Mr Lee wrote, ‘We call on Immigration Minister Andrew Giles MP to consider our case with compassion and empathy, so that we can continue to live in Australia as a family.
‘This is our last hope and chance, our future as a family hangs in the balance.’
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