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This Terminally Ill Student Has Been Denied A Final Chance To See His Family

Hassan Asif has weeks to live, but the immigration minister won’t grant his family a visa.

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UPDATE:

Immigration minister Peter Dutton has told Sky News Asif's family's visa has been approved.

BREAKING: Immigration Minister @PeterDutton_MP tells Sky News visas for Hassan Asif's family have been approved #auspol @SkyNewsAust

UPDATE: Immigration minister Peter Dutton has stood by his department's call to refuse the visas, but said the decision may still be reviewed.

"Yesterday I asked the post in Islamabad to look at this issue and to request an additional application from the mother and from the brother," he said. "The decision-maker in relation to this matter made the right decision on the information that I have available to me."

"This young man is in a terrible circumstance and the decision-maker has to weigh up not only the personal circumstances, but also what is in the national interest. If people decision-makers believe that people aren't going to return to their country of origin... then obviously that can result in huge expenditure over many years to the Australian taxpayer."


Twenty five-year-old Hassan Asif moved to Melbourne from Pakistan on a student visa in 2014.

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In April, he was diagnosed with skin cancer and in November he was told he had entered the terminal phase of his cancer.

With just weeks to live, Asif appealed to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, asking it to allow his family to travel to Australia to be with him during the final stages of his life. Yesterday, he was told that his appeal had been rejected.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection denied visas to Asif's mother and brother, saying there was not enough evidence the pair would return to Pakistan. Hassan is too ill to travel to Pakistan himself.

"This is my last days and I'm dying and I just want my family to be here with me," he told Daily Mail Australia. "My mum is very sad - she cried a lot and just wants to be with me during this time."

A petition has been started asking minister for immigration Peter Dutton to make a ministerial call and grant Hassan's mother a temporary visa. It has over 6,000 signatures.

"The Australian High Commission in Islamabad rejected her [Hassan's mother] last bid last week," says the petition. "They were not 'satisfied she had an economic incentive to return home after the trip' - even though Hassan’s and other family members are staying in Pakistan. "

NSW Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi told BuzzFeed News she had written a letter to Dutton demanding he reconsider the application.

“As a mother of a 25 year old son, I can’t think of anything more heartbreaking than what Mr Asif and his family are going through," she said.

“I have written to Immigration Minister Dutton today imploring him to revisit the decision denying Mr Hassan Asif’s mother a visa to Australia, and allow them to be with each other again."

“This is such a cruel and arbitrary decision. Denying a mother to visit her terminally ill son just illustrates the heartlessness of these policies."

“There is still time for him to change his mind but every day is of the essence here, so the Minister must urgently review this."

“I have been approached by many people, especially Pakistani-Australians whose families have been denied tourist visas or family visit visas by the Immigration Department, but this is the most heartbreaking of them all."

Greens Leader Richard Di Natale said in a media release the government needed to "find its heart."

"This is a heartless decision which has caused a family already in distress even more pain," said Australian Greens Leader Richard Di Natale.

"Hassan is entering the terminal phase of his life and is unable to travel overseas, to deny him and his family the chance to reunite once more is cruel."

"Especially at this time of year I would hope the government could find their heart and allow this visit to go ahead."

Greens Senator Sarah Janson-Young also voiced her disapproval in the immigration department's decision.

Malcom Turnbull should intervene and override Peter Dutton's decision to ban parents of dying Pakistani student from visiting their son.



Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Brad Esposito at bradley.esposito@buzzfeed.com.

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