Zimbabwe student denied visa because she was late by a minute

A MELBOURNE university graduate has been refused a skilled migration visa because she faxed the forms which arrived seconds after official business hours, it is claimed.

Tatenda Muradzi, 25, was told by Chris Bowen, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, her application was “not valid” because it was not sent by a “prescribed method” – she used fax instead of email.

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The government department also argued the documents did not arrive until 5.01pm, so were treated as being received the next day when the deadline had passed.

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Federal magistrate Judge Heather Riley this week said she “sympathised” with Ms Muradzi but ruled in favour of the department and awarded almost $6000 in costs against the Zimbabwe-born woman.

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“I believe I have been treated extremely unfairly,” Ms Muradzi said.

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The application for a skilled migration visa states it must be sent by either email, post or courier to a processing centre in Adelaide.

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Ms Muradzi, who completed a degree in commerce at Deakin University, said she attended the Melbourne offices of her migration agent Neil Donkin at 11am, but spent several unsuccessful hours trying to email the forms.

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It was then decided to fax the documents, as a fax number was provided on the department’s website. But by doing so, the application was rendered invalid.

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“It was because their email did not work that we sent it by fax,” Ms Muradzi said.

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“The correct forms were completed, along with all supporting documentation.

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“All I am asking for is the application to be judged on its merit – what does it matter how it got to their office? Does sending it by fax compromise the application in any way?

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“They are arguing a point of technicality to get rid of my application and it is simply not fair.”

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The Department of Immigration and Citizenship also claimed it did not receive the application until a day after the application deadline.

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“As to the timing, the facsimile electronic date and time stamp on the application showed that it was received at 5.01pm on March 15, 2010,” Judge Riley said.

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“However, as the application was presumably received after normal office hours, it is manually stamped as having been received on 16 March, 2010.”

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Ms Muradzi’s barrister, Anthony Bonnici, plans to appeal the decision made on Tuesday.

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In the meantime, Ms Muradzi has been placed on a bridging visa that prevents her from working or studying.