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High Court Ruling to Reunite Refugee Family

A recent ruling by the High Court has allowed a young refugee to apply for a visa to bring his family to Australia - providing an interesting test case for migration consultants and professional agents to follow.

Sayed Abdul Rahman Shahi has been granted permission to begin the immigration process that will see his mother and other close relatives be allowed to enter the country.

The court heard how Shahi - a former citizen of Afghanistan had previously come to Australia as a teenager in 2009 - arriving at Christmas Island in May where he was found to be a refugee and was subsequently issued with a protection visa.

He submitted an application in December of that year for a Global Special Humanitarian visa that would see his family able to join him.

However, by the time the proposal was processed Shahi had turned 18 years old - causing some problems with the technical specifications set out by the program.

In the relevant legislation, a humanitarian visa could be issued under a set of six requirements that must be met before permission is granted, including "members of the immediate family".

Unfortunately for Shahi, the definition of this particular point was only applicable to the parent of a person under the age of 18 years.

Because the applicant was of adult age when the submission was processed, there was an issue relating to the definition of the terms.

Because Shahi was over 18 years old, under the relevant laws there was no longer a compelling case for his mother to join him in Australia as she ceased to be a member of his "immediate family".

The court found that this particular condition should not have entered into the decision process and that there may have been a jurisdictional error in this case.

Instead the official documents state that the provision of the requested visa be dependant more on the first criteria set out by the relevant legislation - that the applicant "is subject to substantial discrimination" in his home country and that the issue of age was not as relevant in this case.

Speaking on the issue, one of the plaintiff's lawyers Joel Townsend said that the findings could have substantial implication for both visa holder and professional migration agents.

Townsend asserted: "We think this is great outcome for our client and also for quite a number of other young refugees who want to bring their families to Australia. 

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