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Vietnamese family pleads not to be deported after 10 years in Australia

Gia đình Tô Quốc Vinh Source: Supplied

A Sydney-based family from Vietnam who have been living in Australia for over a decade, face deportation unless Immigration Minister Peter Dutton intervenes in their case and allows them to stay in Australia.

Vinh To and his wife came to Australia with sponsored 457 work visas for skilled migrants in 2007. After allegedly being scammed by the migration agency that first sponsored him, Vinh continued to fall prey to different migration-agency scams, promising to help the couple to stay permanently in Australia - but to no avail.

Vinh and his wife remained in Australia for the next 10 years, welcoming and raising two Australian-born children here and going through many court cases along the way. Vinh’s family is in difficult financial situation and facing deportation to Vietnam.

Vinh and his wife now have two boys, Lucas, aged five, and Louis, aged three, who were born in Australia.

Vinh and his wife recently have set up a petition calling on the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to allow the family stay.

Vinh's story has been read by many in the Vietnamese Australian community as a cautionary tale for people about migration-agency scams, promising easily get sponsorship to migrate to Australia, the unscrupulous of migration agencies and the nonchalant manner of the applicants themselves in visa application process.

Beginning with a recommendation from a friend

Vinh says it all began with a recommendation from a friend who lived in Australia 10 years ago.

"My friend told me about a company that sponsored migrants to Australia with a skilled visa," Vinh tells SBS Vietnamese. "I sold my barber shop on Hai Ba Trung Street, Ho Chi Minh CBD, to go here with my wife."

"I arrived Australia only to discover that there was no such company like that here.”

Vinh says he had to pay more than $10,000 dollars for the visa in 2007.

When he couldn't find any trace of the migration agency that originally sponsored him, he instead searched for jobs everywhere and finally got secured a job in a barber shop.

The shop promised to sponsor Vinh, but it turned out the company didn’t have enough profit to be eligible to sponsor him and another employee at the same time. The Immigration Department denied Vinh’s application for the first time.

Then, a friend of Vinh just happened to open to barber shop on John st Cabramatta and promised to sponsor him.

Following what he says was poor advice from a Vietnamese immigration lawyer, Vinh trusted the offer at face value and did not research the relevant law on sponsoring workers to Australia.

Following this, Vinh's application was denied by the Immigration Department for a second time in 2012.

The reasons given: Vinh had not abided by the law since first arriving in Australia, as he did not work for the company which sponsored him, but accepted work with another company.

After consulting with his lawyers, Vinh applied to have the Immigration Department’s decisions reviewed by the Migration Review Tribunal.

Vinh’s family were issued bridging visas in 2012 while waiting for the court date to participate in legal proceedings.

The family now has under three weeks left in Australia or they will be deported.

They had their bridging visas extended again after an application in 2014 to the Migration Review Tribunal was rejected.

This year they had a final appeal with the Federal Circuit Court (postponed from 2016 due to inadequate documentation), which also dismissed their application on 9th June 2017. 

The family were given two weeks to appeal or to leave Australia. In that time, they sought and were granted bridging visa E, for another month's extension, which expired this week on 15th August.

Also during that time, Vinh engaged a new migration agent who wrote to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection but was told Minister Peter Dutton would not consider his case. 


Vinh then applied a final time at the Department of Immigration's offices in Sydney and was granted a further three week extension.

The family now has under three weeks left in Australia or they will be deported.

Result of placing faith in migration agents?

Vinh says he was highly angry over the way migration agencies had worked with him and blamed the lawyers for his failed visa applications.

"I paid a lot of money for Vietnamese lawyers in Cabramatta but they kept my application," says Vinh. "I was worrying and seeking for an Australian lawyer office in Sydney CBD."

"But they did not prepare my documents properly, only requesting documents very close to the deadlines. Court denied our cases again and again."

Throughout the 10 years they have been living in Australia, Vinh and his wife haven’t gone back to Vietnam. They were worried they would not be able to re-enter Australia.

“When my mother-in-law and grandfather passed away, I didn’t dare to go back Vietnam," says Vinh. "I was worrying that I could not enter Australia again, who would take care of my children here."

Vinh and his wife now have two boys, Lucas, aged five, and Louis, aged three, who were born in Australia.

Hai con nhỏ 5 tuổi và 3 tuổi đối mặt với nguy cơ bị trục xuất
Vinh's two children Lucas, aged five, and Louis, aged three, were born in Australia

Vinh is worried that deporting them to Vietnam will impact the future of his children because “they have been raised in Australia, they have never been to Vietnam and Vietnam’s situation is stressful”.

This Vietnamese family is relying on the last hope of an intervention by the Minister of Immigration.

A petition started by Vinh To has already racked up over 8,000 signatures until 16 August.

A few days ago, a South Korea family based in Melbourne who were facing deportation have won the right to stay in Australia after the Federal Government intervened in their case.

The Lee family, who lost $100,000 in a migration scam and have lived in Melbourne for nine years, were resigned to returning to South Korea on September 28.

This week, a spokeswoman for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said the Assistant Minister had intervened in the Lee case, granting all members of the family permanent visas.

Vinh To hopes his family will receive a similar consideration from the Immigration Minister. However at the moment, they are living in fear of being deported after a three-week bridging visa extension.

The online petition has attracted over 8,000 signatures.

SBS is seeking comment from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in regard to the case. 

Listen to Vinh To's full interview (in Vietnamese) with SBS Vietnamese in the audio player above. 


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