The Muruguppan family seeking asylum in Australia will be allowed to stay in the country for a further three months.
An Australian government barrister says the Immigration Minister intends to issue bridging visas to Priya, Nades, and Kopika Muruguppan next Thursday, when their current visas are due to expire.
The family of four has been fighting a long legal battle to remain in Australia since they were removed from their Biloela home in 2018.
Government barrister Stephen Lloyd said the minister would use a form of undertaking, allowing the Murugappan family to enter “administrative detention” on Thursday.
Mr Lloyd told the Federal Circuit and Family Court the family “don’t go into a detention centre at all”.
When the current bridging visas expire on Wednesday, the family must attend a meeting at Mercy Care where the minister can issue the parents and eldest daughter with bridging visas again.
This would allow the family to continue to work and study on the mainland for another three months while their complex legal battle continues.
The visa status of Tharnicaa remains unchanged after the High Court refused a special leave request, preventing her from seeking a chance to apply for a protection visa last month.
The family is fighting deportation to Sri Lanka after they were found not to be owed protection in Australia.
Why is the family in court again?
Today’s hearing addressed the family’s dispute of a bar decision by the minister which blocked them from applying for further bridging visas.
Proceedings relating to this ongoing legal matter have been adjourned for today, but will continue at a later date.
Family friend Angela Fredericks said she was “very relieved” to know the family would be granted further visas, but described the undertaking as “surprising”.
“We essentially went to court today because there’s a bar in place stopping the family from applying for a further bridging visa,” she said.
“So the fact that that’s now been granted, before an outcome from the court case, I do find that a bit confusing to say the least.”
The Immigration Minister said in a statement that Priya, Nades, and Kopika were to attend a meeting on September 23 where the minister can “re-consider” the grant of a bridging visa.
It said the minister will exercise his power under section 195A to grant bridging visas “unless new adverse and material information comes to light”.
No return to Biloela
Ms Fredericks said it does not mean the family can return to Biloela.
“When the minister chose to keep Tharnicaa in community detention, that essentially meant the family are trapped in Perth. So none of that changes,” she said.
“It really makes us question why Tharnicaa can’t even be put in community detention in Queensland, purely so the family can be closer to all their support.”
Ms Fredericks said the ongoing uncertainty was cruel.
“Talking to Priya, she has said it’s a good step and is feeling relieved,” she said.
“However, she was on the phone to me in tears still not understanding why they are being kept in Perth.
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“While it is great news that they are not going to face detention or deportation, there is that ever-looming threat of ‘okay, well what happens in another three months’?”