SBS is set to premiere a first-ever documentary series capturing the life-changing moments when migrants are told whether they can call Australia home, or whether they will be asked to leave.
Who Gets To Stay In Australia? Premieres at 8:30 pm on Wednesday 1 July, and follows the lives of 13 men, women and their families who want to settle in Australia for love, family, work or for safety.
However, while someone gains permanent residency in Australia every three minutes, every year, more than 40,000 are rejected.
Who Gets To Stay In Australia follows people whose applications have previously been rejected and are on their final appeal to stay in the country.
This year follows Australian exercise physiologist, Drew, and his Peruvian partner Luciano, who fell in love over a home-cooked Parmigiana five years ago.
As visa processing time takes up to two years, the cost of being sent home to Peru won’t just impact their relationship, but also Luciano’s health.
Luciano contracted HIV in Australia before he met Drew and could face moving back to Peru without the HIV medication he depends on.
While Luciano also overstayed his original visa when he was in his early-20s, migrant applicants who could cost the health system more than $49,000 over 10 years are also rejected.
SBS Director of TV and Online Content, Marshall Heald, said that the series provides an intimate perspective to what is otherwise a primarily misunderstood journey.
“Away from the noisy headlines and politics lie the deeply moving stories of people who want to call Australia home and make a living in this country. Who Gets To Stay In Australia? puts a human face to the Australian immigration process,” he said.
“The stories are raw, heartbreaking, triumphant and full of hope, in equal measure. We hope it will encourage a deeper understanding of the thousands of people who go through this journey.”
While their partner visa was refused, the couple is now appealing to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and have been waiting almost two years for a new hearing.
In an Australian television-first, SBS cameras capture the hearings where applicants and their lawyers make their case directly to a single judge, allowing Australian audiences to witness Luciano fight for his health, and his love.
Luciano will only be allowed to stay if they can prove that his departure would have detrimental consequences. Luciano doesn’t have access to antiretroviral medication in Peru, and it costs too much for him to import it from the US.
Furthermore, Drew won’t be able to live with Luciano, as he speaks no Spanish and his line of work is not available in Peru.
Their only hope of maintaining Luciano’s health is to convince the Tribunal to let him stay.
“I think I belong here. You don’t have to be born in a place to feel like you belong. I feel like I belong to this society. I feel Aussie.
“Peruvian society is full of prejudice. Being gay, openly gay, it’s difficult to be who you are.
“Not knowing the future what is going to happen makes me feel anxious. I believe the reason I am here is so I could meet my soulmate. Andrew was there for me right from the start, when they diagnosed me with HIV. I don’t think I’m going to find somebody like him.”
Luciano’s immigration lawyer, Yunn Chen said the Tribunal’s decision is now a matter of life or death.
“Without the access to the medication that he needs to stabilise his condition, his life expectancy is likely to be something like five to 10 years,” he said.
Audiences will also meet Australian woman, Stephanie, who is fighting to keep her French husband, Fares in Australia after he overstayed his original visa by 10 years. Australian man, Harry and his Indonesian wife, Viona who face being split up and having their children forced to leave due to a paperwork error – and the Irish Hyde family who may all have to leave as their son has cystic fibrosis.
Who Gets To Stay In Australia premieres Wednesday July 1 at 8:30 pm on SBS. Drew and Luciano will feature in episode 3 on July 15.