News National South Korean family facing deportation fights to stay in Queensland

South Korean family facing deportation fights to stay in Queensland

Phillip and Amy Choi
Siblings Phillip and Amy Choi face an uncertain future. Photo: ABC
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A Gold Coast-based family from South Korea faces deportation unless Immigration Minister Peter Dutton intervenes in their case and allows them to stay in Australia.

Leo Choi and Joanne Moon arrived in Australia with their son Phillip on student visas in 1995.

Their daughter Amy was born the following year.

In 1998 the family moved back to South Korea and returned on a business visa in 2005.

They applied for permanent residency but were refused. Last year they were granted visitor visas, which expire on November 2.

So far more than 28,000 people have signed a petition calling for Mr Dutton to intervene.

“It is very tiring and it is very stressful, especially the uncertainty,” Phillip Choi, now 21, said.

He lives in Robina with his sister Amy, now 19, and their parents – Leo and Joanne.

“Our entire future is in the hands of the department and the Minister’s signature,” he added.

Former Robina State High School captain Phillip, and sister Amy, both graduated with OP-1s, which ranked them in the top 2 per cent of Queensland students.

While they flourished academically their parents failed to secure permanent residency.

“Australia has shaped our values. It’s shaped who we are,” Phillip said.

“We’ve grown up here. All of our family and friends are here.”

Amy added: “We aren’t trying to queue jump, but if it comes across that way I’m sorry, but this is the only option left for us to go through.”

Choi family
Leo Choi, Amy Choi, Joanne Moon and Phillip Choi are all fighting to stay in Australia. Photo: Supplied/ABC

Friend Kate Garland said the community has rallied around the family.

“They’re Australian, they always have been and there’s no reason for them to be deported,” she said.

Another friend, Christie Bemportato, said she would be devastated if they were deported.

“I work with them at Bunnings and they have just always been helpful and polite and friendly and they always have smiles on their faces,” she said.

McPherson MP Karen Andrews, who has written to the Immigration Minister on the family’s behalf, said Mr Dutton was aware of their case.

“He deals with these matters on a daily basis and I am very confident that he will consider all of the information and make a decision, taking into consideration all of the facts.”

But it seems the chances of an intervention are slim.

“Last year the former Assistant Minister granted visas with work rights valid for six months so the family could apply for other substantive visas to remain in Australia. They did not do so,” a spokesperson for Mr Dutton said in a statement.

“People with no legal basis to remain in Australia are expected to depart.”