A British woman who has lived in Australia for the past 11 years has launched a petition urging the federal Immigration Minister to allow her to stay in the country after her visa was cancelled.
Belinda Checkley, from Chichester in the southern English county of West Sussex, has been living in the NSW tourist town of Byron Bay after arriving in Australia in April 2012.
During that time Ms Checkley, 36, has been “working, building friendships, spending time with my community and finding my partner.”
Ms Checkley’s petition to Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Andrew Giles has over 20k signatures.
Her world was turned upside down just before Christmas when she opened an email to find her visa application had been rejected. She was given three months to leave Australia.
She has since launched a petition on change.org, urging Immigration Minister Andrew Giles to review her case and allow her to stay.
The petition has garnered more than 20,000 signatures.
Ms Checkley blames “negligent lawyers” for her predicament.
Ms Checkley has since started a change.org petition, which now has more than 20,000 signatures, as she fights to remain in Australia.
“I obtained a sponsorship at a busy cafe, confident that my work ethic, performance and character would mean I could emigrate from my home in the UK,” wrote Ms Checkley on the petition.
“Unfortunately, negligent lawyers prolonged this straightforward process. Then, after six long years of employment at the cafe, the business changed owners in 2020.
“This simple transfer of ownership led to the immediate cancellation of my sponsorship and visa – and I wasn’t allowed to transfer my previous years to a new employer.
“Just like that, with one email, six years of my life were completely erased.
Compounding the ongoing visa woes, Ms Checkley’s partner took his own life in 2019.
“This was an unimaginably painful experience and it is something that will be with me forever,” wrote Ms Checkley.
“The magnitude of love and support that I received from my incredible friends and members of the local community was a clear testament to the fact that this beautiful town is truly my home.”
She applied to the Department of Home Affairs, arguing unique circumstances, requesting the matter receive a ministerial review.
But the appeal never made it across the desk of Minister Giles.
Shortly before Christmas, Belinda found out her visa application had been rejected and that she had three months to leave the country.
“My appeal, too, was rejected by the Department of Immigration without further review,” said Ms Checkley.
“I was informed there was no option to apply for any alternative visa while still living in Australia.
“And I had three months to prepare for my deportation. Once outside Australian borders, I would be legally barred from re-entering the country for the next three years.”
Her petition is now seeking 25,000 signatures in order for Mr Giles to personally examine her case on compassionate grounds.
An update on the petition page from Monday claims Ms Checkley has just one more week before she’s deported, with a link for a pre-filled email to be sent to Mr Giles.
Belinda Checkley has lived in Byron Bay for the last 11 years.
“I have known Bels for 2 years,” said fellow Byron local Daniel Pantoja in a comment under the petition. “She is an imperative member of our community both in Bangalow and in Byron Bay.
“To see her go through the very hard times she’s had to endure on top of facing deportation breaks my heart.”
Another user called the situation “utterly disgraceful”.
“Australia needs hard working people like Belinda,” they wrote. “Why make her life more difficult by not allowing her to stay in Australia?”
Ms Checkley’s petition can be found here.
NCA NewsWire has contacted Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Andrew Giles for comment.
Read related topics:Immigration