Peter Dutton approves visas for family members of terminally ill Pakistani youth

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Peter Dutton
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton Peter Dutton/

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed on Wednesday that the visas of the family of a terminally ill young Pakistani student have been approved so that they can see him before he dies. The decision came only a while after Dutton supported the immigration department’s decision to deny visas to the family.

Hassan Asif, 25, who lives in Melbourne, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and has only weeks to live. He is being cared for by the Melbourne City Mission youth homelessness refuge. After the news of his family’s visa being approved reached him, he said he could not have been happier.

The visas of his mother and brother were denied previously on grounds of “national interest” and the cost of visa overstayers. According to Dutton, the initial decision on the visas was appropriate in respect to the initial application made. He said that the person who processed the initial application needed to consider whether somebody coming to Australia was going to stay in Australia or make a claim for protection. He then requested the family members to provide more information and asked them to make another application with regards to that.

"In some cases that can result in millions of dollars of expense to the taxpayer," he said. “It may mean that somebody is here on welfare for an extended period of time, so the consideration has to be in the national interest. There are many issues and this young man is in a terrible circumstance. The decision-maker has to weigh up not only the personal circumstances but also what is in the national interest.”

He added that he hopes that the matter will be resolved quickly as the diplomatic post in Islamabad will remain closed for five days for Christmas.  

Sherri Bruinhout, director of homelessness and justice services at Melbourne City Mission youth homelessness refuge, said that Asif was unable to pay for the accommodation after his illness took over.

"He came to our attention because he was trying to have chemotherapy while living in a squat," he told the ABC. "It was a terrible situation. He didn't know where to turn. He didn't know there were services available to help him.”

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