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Immigration Lawyers Melbourne

Cricketer, Asylum Seeker, Citizen

A very interesting article recently in the Sydney Morning Herald regarding Fawad Ahmed, a professional cricketer forced to leave Pakistan after receiving threats from religious extremists for his community work, which included education for girls and vaccinations for polio and hepatitis.

Ahmed’s story underlines the importance of obtaining good and timely advice. The article quotes Ahmed’s former cricketing club president Derek Bennett:

‘Like many people in his situation, [Ahmed] found himself one of these so-called migration agents, who don’t have great legal training and he’d handed a fair bit of money to this bloke,” he says. ”He was confident the appeal would be successful.’

Unfortunately, not only was Ahmed’s initial application refused, but his application to the Refugee Review Tribunal was also unsuccessful.

However, with the help of Cricket Australia, Ahmed was able to make an application for Ministerial Intervention, generally the option of last resort. The article describes the process as ‘a harrowing experience, which came extremely close to failing’. The article quotes Bennett saying:

‘The worst moment of that period was when we went to the Immigration Department for what Fawad thought was just another procedural thing,’ Bennett recalls. ‘The lady said, ‘How much money have you got? Is your passport in order? You need to be ready to leave at 24 hours notice.’

‘Fawad was really distressed. He was saying, ‘We’ve asked the minister to re-assess’, and she just said, ‘the minister hardly ever overturns decisions and you’ve got to be ready to leave’. That whole time weighed very heavily on us.

This is a very common sentiment of people reporting to Compliance while awaiting Ministerial Intervention. Having a qualified immigration lawyer to accompany you through this process is invaluable.

Ultimately Ahmed was granted permanent residency and, later, Australian citizenship. Within 2 months of becoming a citizen, Ahmed represented Australia in five international cricket matches for Australia.

‘I think his outlook, his view of himself and his prospects are very different now Bennett is quoted saying, I think he pinches himself every day he wakes up’.

Australia truly is the Lucky Country, but an immigration application is only as good as the immigration advice you get. In this case, it was not just one man’s opportunity to play cricket on the world stage, it meant the difference between life and death.

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