The parents of a little boy living with Down syndrome have spoken of their joy after the immigration minister intervened to stop their deportation.
- Arayan Aneesh and his family have been granted permanent residency
- His parents are employed in critical industries
- Aaryan had been initially denied the right to stay because he has Down syndome
The ABC revealed last week the Aneesh family were facing the prospect of heading back to India after living in Perth for seven years.
They had applied for permanent residency but their 10-year-old son Aaryan failed the visa test, which weighs the potential cost a migrant may have on the health system.
It is a system that has been criticised as unfairly discriminating against people with disabilities.
Having exhausted the appeals process in their quest to gain permanent residency, the family's only option to stay was intervention by Immigration Minister Andrew Giles.
Family 'over the moon'
But this morning Aaryan's mother received a call from the minister's office saying he had personally intervened and would grant the family permanent residency.
"I was really happy, I was over the moon. It was such great news I've ever heard, after my kids' birth," she said.
"When I received the email I literally burst into tears.
"We can stay here, we can live in this community, we can provide a very good environment for our kids."
Reprieve came at eleventh hour
Ms Aneesh said the decision came just before their visa expired on March 15, and she was thankful for all the support they had received from the community.
Aaryan attends a mainstream private school with his eight-year-old sister Aaryasree.
"Every one of my colleagues, everyone at my kids' school, everyone was supporting us," she said.
"I don't know whom to thank, I thank every one of you."
She said her two children were really happy when she told them the news after they prayed every morning for permanent residency.
In a letter seen by the ABC, Minister Giles said he had personally reviewed the family's case and decided to exercise his power in the public interest by granting the family permanent residency.
The visa will give them access to Medicare and the ability to apply to become Australian citizens.
Parents deemed critical workers
Parents Aneesh Kollikkara and Krishna Aneesh immigrated to Australia from India with their children in 2016, and both work in critical industries.
Aaryan's mother is a cybersecurity expert analyst at a large mining company, while his father works in the critical telecommunications field.
Aaryan was born with Down syndrome, and the Immigration Department had denied the family permanent residency visas due to potential costs his disability may have on the health system.
The government had estimated potential costs to taxpayers of Aaryan's health expenses to be $664,000 over a 10-year period.
Ms Aneesh told ABC Radio Perth last week the visa process had taken a huge emotional toll on their family, and her children did not want to leave their home in Perth.
Family's experience 'tip of the iceberg'
Jan Gothard is a registered migration agent who specialises in how health and disability can affect visa applications.
She said that while she was very pleased with the outcome for the family, their case was just the tip of the iceberg.
"I'm very happy that the minister has intervened in this case, it's been a very long, hard road for them ... it's disappointing that they have to go through this path, but at last, decency has prevailed," Dr Gothard said.
"But it's just the tip of the iceberg, because there are so many cases where people aren't eligible to apply for ministerial intervention, for a whole host of reasons — they might be offshore, they might not fit the category."
Dr Gothard said during 2021-2022, there were around 1,800 individuals who failed to meet the visa health requirement.
"Of that number, half of them were able to argue that the benefits they brought to Australia outstripped the notional costs and of that 50 per cent who were able to make that argument, 96 per cent got their visas granted, so that's very good," she said.
"But there's another 50 per cent of people who are not in a position to make that argument.
"If they were allowed to make that argument, I'm sure that they too would be able to argue that the benefits they bring outstrip the costs, which is really the point."
Call for change
The adjunct associate professor at Murdoch University said the regulations needed to change.
"I mean, it's all very well for the minister to step in, in one case, but there are so many others where it doesn't happen and it's a waste of everybody's time, it's a waste of resources, it's a waste of money for the individuals, for the families involved.
"We really need some fundamental changes to the migration health requirement.
"It would be really good to see the Migration Act governed by the Disability Discrimination Act, like most other legislation in Australia ... that's one of the sticking points.
"The Migration Act is exempt from the Disability Discrimination Act and that makes it very difficult for families with a member with a disability."
Ms Aneesh said she hoped the system could change so other families would not have to endure the same stress.
"Getting rejected for a reason like your child has a disability or a family member having a disability, it will make your heart broken," she said.