JULIETTE and Han Verdel of Beverley say they are just one example among hundreds of people whose lives have been turned upside down by Australia’s complex visa system.
The Dutch couple have called Australia home for the past eight years, but now face deportation to the Netherlands, possibly before they get a chance to sell their home.
The Verdels arrived in Australia in 2004 under 457 visa sponsorship and Mr Verdel quickly set up a business, which was set to lead to permanent residency.
But in early 2009, the business fell victim to the global financial crisis and went into receivership, removing the Verdels’ permanent residency prospects.
Undeterred, Mr Verdel secured another, lower-paid 457 visa sponsorship within 28 days, but it took the Department of Immigration and Citizenship 11 months to grant the new visa, by which stage there was no longer a job available.
He later took another job but had to resign last November due to a recurring illness.
Under his 457 visa, he could be unemployed only for 28 days before he had to leave.
Mr Verdel said the department had allowed him just five days to argue reasons for the couple to stay in Australia.
He has since been told that he must leave the country by the end of the week.
“The DIAC has not had the courtesy to answer to a letter from our lawyer,” he said.
“Instead, my former employer got a message to buy us a one-way ticket to the Netherlands, which means a ticket to nowhere for us as there is no house or anything waiting for us,” he said.
A spokesman for DIAC said while the department was sympathetic to the couple’s situation, it was up to them to organise the relevant visa.
He would not comment on how the couple found out about their air fare back to the Netherlands through a former employer.