Byron Bay cafe worker faces deportation after 11 years in Australia: 'SOBBING'
The English migrant is taking one final stab at keeping her Australian life after the immigration minister rejected her appeal.
An English migrant faces imminent deportation after exhausting almost every avenue to keep the Australian life she has spent eleven years building.
Belinda Checkley said she has been "fortunate to call Australia home" in a petition she has created to plead her case for remaining in the country.
The 36-year-old moved to Byron Bay in April 2012, initially moving over on a working holiday visa and completing farm work like many fellow expats wanting to stay in the country longer.
Ms Checkley hopped from visa to visa in pursuit of permanent residency, copping emotional and financial strife to attain the status.
"It really weighs heavy on you, this burden of uncertainty of living your life in this country. Everything's here – your friends, who are now your family, your home," Ms Checkley told 9News.
Laborious process for the Australian immigrant hopeful
After suffering "negligent" lawyers, gaining employment sponsorship at a cafe only to lose it after six years due to the business being sold, and further appealing her visa eligibility, her case was sent to be personally reviewed by the Minister of Immigration Andrew Giles.
However, her defiant efforts were not met with the desired outcome and her visa eligibility was "detonated" — Ms Checkley was set to be deported in three months' time.
She will be unable to re-enter Australia for three years due to the "surreal" decision.
"I was sobbing, because it was just like my whole world had ended," she told 9News.
"I've worked so hard for 11 years to build my life here. I've given everything to this country, paying taxes and working in an industry that is desperate for staff," she continued.
In a desperate last stab at remaining in the country, she has started a petition which pleads her personal case for why she should be in the country. The petition has already racked up over 20,000 signatures, with her Byron Bay community rallying around her in support.
It is not the first time a sense of community has been vital for Ms Checkley living far away from her country of birth. In 2019, she "suffered an immense loss" when her former partner took his own life.
"It was just horrific and I went through the heaviest grief," she said.
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It was due to the love and support from friends and members of the local community during this difficult time which was a "clear testament" to the fact that Byron Bay was now her home.
In light of the recent deportation notice, Ms Checkley and her Australian partner now face the reality of moving overseas on Tuesday, biding their life in Australia goodbye.
The Department of Home Affairs told Yahoo News Australia that they do not comment on individual cases, however, highlighted that the onus of retaining a valid visa is on the individual.
"It is a visa holder’s responsibility to maintain a lawful immigration status while they remain in Australia," the departmental spokesperson said.
"Individuals who no longer hold a valid visa are expected to depart Australia," they concluded.
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