A piece of sad news just dropped. Mohamed Barghachoun from Sydney, who paid thousands of dollars to his migration agent, was forced to leave his wife and children behind after his partner’s visa application was not submitted correctly.
Bexley resident Mohamed Barghachoun relocated from Lebanon to marry his longtime love. He married Jihan Merhi, an Australian citizen, in 2019. Ms. Merhi, Australian woman, paid a migration agent more than 1.5K AUD to apply for her husband’s partner visa at the time of their wedding.
However, the couple, born deaf, got unfortunate news in July that the migration agent had never correctly submitted their partner visa application. The migration agent has also been ignoring warning letters from the immigration department.
Distressed Couple’s Claims
The sad couple has claimed that their migration agent was misguiding them. The immigration minister Andrew Giles’s office informed Mr. Barghachoun that his visa had expired, that he was no longer allowed to live in Australia, and that he had to leave the country on Saturday.
On this, Mr. Barghacoun is left devastated. He spoke to ABC news through an Auslan interpreter and shared his dismay. He said.
I’m just heartbroken. I’m not sleeping at night. How is [Jihan] going to look after the three kids on her own? I just don’t understand why.
According to the department’s decision record, seen by ABC, the couple’s first partner visa application came in May 2019, and they provided adequate evidence of their relationship during the application process.
The paper states that officials made six unsuccessful attempts to get in touch with their migration agent Paul Jeffrey Smith between August 2019 and January 2022.
The decision made by the department of home affairs read,
To date, there has been no further contact by you or your sponsor, nor have you provided the requested documentation. As you have not provided any evidence that you continue to be the spouse of an Australian citizen. I am not satisfied you meet the requirements.”
Image credits: ABC News. Mohamed and Jihan with their children.
According to a copy of the rejection letter given to Mr. Smith in February, Mr. Barghachoun had 21 calendar days to appeal the decision by submitting a petition to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Nevertheless, Mr. Barghachoun told the news reporter that he had never been informed about the rejection letter by his migration agent, Mr. Smith. After being notified that his Medicare card had been canceled without prior notice, Mr. Barghachoun discovered his visa had expired.
Communication Gap Due To Disability
Ms. Merhi stated that she contacted the immigration office to inquire about the status of her husband’s partner visa. Since she couldn’t communicate verbally with the authorities, she contacted the department through Auslan interpreters.
Australia’s Deaf community communicates using sign language known as Auslan. Translators who are trained in Auslan are qualified to translate meaning between English and Auslan in an accurate and clear way.
The department told her there was no evidence of her being married or having children at the time.
Ms. Merhi said that
Nothing had been organized in terms of the marriage certificate. We were very confused. The birth certificates for the children as well — nothing. There was no proof of anything.
Additionally, Mr. Barghachoun said that communicating with the immigration department has been difficult due to his inability to speak. Consequently, he is unable to communicate with the authorities over the phone.
They call me; I’ve got all these missed calls on my phone. And they get annoyed at me. We’re deaf. We’d be able to communicate with them if they booked an interpreter.
In September of last year, Mr. Barghachoun also sent a letter to Immigration Minister Andrew Giles outlining his situation. He received a response a month later informing him that the minister did not have the authority to intervene in his situation.
The letter read,
With regard to the refusal of your visa application, under Australian migration law, it is not possible for the delegate to consider additional information, or to reconsider a visa application, once their decision has been finalized.
It was also mentioned in the letter that,
If your migration agent is registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA), you may wish to lodge a complaint about their conduct.
Only Apply Through A Registered Migration Agent
It is also reported that the OMARA registration of the Migration agent, Mr. Smith, also expired in February last year. In response to ABC’s request for an interview, Mr. Smith declined to do so.
Now Mr. Barghachoun’s only option is to go back to Lebanon. There he will have to reapply for a visa offshore as he can not stay in the country for his visa has expired. His offshore visa can take months to process, and he will also have to live away from his family.
Things would have been certainly different if they had applied through a registered migration agent. As they are bound by professional standards, codes of conduct, and regulations, which ensure that they provide accurate and ethical services to their clients. A registered migration agent can help you navigate complex immigration laws and regulations, help clients gather necessary documentation, and represent clients in their interactions with immigration authorities.
The unfortunate event was inevitable due to the negligence of the migration agent. The family wouldn’t have to go through separation and all this trouble if only they applied through a registered migration agent.
It is extremely important to note that if you wish to immigrate to Australia, then apply only through a registered migration agent. Your one moment’s error can become a lifetime of sadness if you aren’t careful.
Applying through a qualified migration agent might improve the chances of acceptance and lessen the strain of the procedure. It is essential to contact only registered consultants to ensure that your immigration process goes smoothly and your rights are protected.
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I’m Nasir Nawaz. I’m a registered migration consultant in Australia. I am based in Sydney. I’ve studied Master of Laws at the University of New South Wales. I’m providing immigration services for several years.
Consult with me for legal advice on Australian visas to permanently live, study, and work in Australia.