Deportation fears grow

DIRE SITUATION: Fijian national Primela Wati could be separated from her family in Stanthorpe after the Immigration Department rejected her application for a partner visa.
DIRE SITUATION: Fijian national Primela Wati could be separated from her family in Stanthorpe after the Immigration Department rejected her application for a partner visa. Sophie Lester

A STANTHORPE woman fears she is about to be ripped away from the only family she has left, with the Immigration Department threatening to deport her to Fiji.

Primela Wati came to Australia from Fiji in 2012 to be with her younger sister, Sumintra Johnstone, an Australian resident of 25 years, and citizen.

In May 2012, Ms Wati married an Australian man she had met six years prior and applied for a Partner Visa to remain in the country. The following February, her husband left the Granite Belt where the couple lived with Mrs Johnstone and her husband.

In 2014, the 55-year-old was told her visa application had been refused as the department was not satisfied the parties had made a genuine commitment of marriage to one another, citing lack of evidence of mutual support.

With no family to return to in Fiji, Ms Wati now faces deportation, leaving behind her only sibling.

"It's very hard and him leaving was difficult for me even before all this started,” Ms Wati said.

"He said he was going to Bundaberg to lease a farmlet and he'd come get me in two weeks, but he never did.”

This year, during her attempts to overturn the decision, Ms Wati heard from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal there was information claiming she had paid $8000 to enter into a relationship to stay in Australia, that she and her husband had never lived together, and she was now in another relationship - claims she denies. Mrs Johnstone said she was worried about losing her sister.

"We are concerned people may have told false stories to the department - my sister has been living with me and is not in another relationship.”

Since the appeal was overturned, Mrs Johnstone said she was scared for her sister's safety if she was forced to return to Fiji.

For now, the sisters are anxiously awaiting a final appeal to would allow Ms Wati to remain in the country, a process that will consider letters of support from community leaders, social groups and members of parliament.

"She's got no other blood but me,” she said.

"We have no mother, no father, no-one back in Fiji and it makes me wonder why they won't listen to us and let her stay.”

Topics:  fiji granite belt immigration department partner visa primela wati sumintra johnstone

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