A 30-year-old Indian woman has been granted permanent residency in Australia after her visa was rejected initially because she is legally blind. Simran Kaur had been fighting her case for the last two years and last week a commonwealth medical officer rejected her visa applications after she was found to have met the criteria for legal blindness.
Kaur came to Melbourne in 2007 on a student visa with her husband, to join other family members. As she was born with retinal muscular dystrophy, she was said have a vision described as 6/50. Kaur, student of a community welfare and development course, remained on a temporary visa and found a job with Vision Australia as a social worker. She took her case to the Migration Review Tribunal, which rejected her application on health grounds.
However, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen intervened and allowed Kaur and her husband to stay, the Australian news agency APP reported. Her employer Vision Australia has welcomed the decision but did not believe it would act as a precedent for others in a similar position. "This is a fantastic result for Simran," Brandon Ah Tong was quoted by the APP. "It's a fantastic result for her family, but unfortunately, should someone like Simran come in and try to apply (for permanent residency) tomorrow, they would have the exact same result.
They would be denied," he said. Meanwhile, Kaur's case is believed to raise few concerns on migrants coming to the country. A 2010 Senate inquiry into the treatment of prospective migrants with disabilities made 18 recommendations aimed at updating migration health requirements. The reforms would help people with a disability to make a bigger contribution to society, rather than be thought of as a burden, Ah Tong said. He called on the federal government to act now on the recommendations. "Simran's case... shows why the system should be changed so that blind people are assessed according to what they can actually do, rather than what they hypothetically can't," he said. Applying to the minister for permanent residency was the only way blind people could be granted permanent residency for most visas. "The plain reality is, the majority of applications are denied," Ah Tong said.