Ticking visa clock means student may miss lifesaving cancer treatment
A young Melbourne couple are fighting a last ditch battle to remain in Australia to continue crucial treatment for advanced breast cancer.
Yousra Alamgir was last July diagnosed with stage four breast cancer and has been undergoing extensive treatment to tackle the cancer, which has also spread to her lungs.
The student, originally from Bangladesh, has been living and studying in Melbourne since 2013 and had only one subject left to complete her Masters degree and become eligible to apply for permanent residence.
But the diagnosis has halted her study and her visa is due out run out in March, along with the spouse visa held by her husband Shaifi Moazzem.
Ms Alamgir said Melbourne feels like her home and she is worried about her chances of survival if she is forced to return to Bangladesh.
She is undergoing hormone and radiation therapy and worries her home country lacks the medical expertise and treatment options to deal with such advanced cancer, which has less than a one-in-four survival rate over five years.
??????We never had anything like this in Bangladesh, honestly I do not feel safe there.
??????I’m having a good treatment, I trust them, I believe them and most importantly I feel like things are improving so I don’t want to change it.”
Mr Moazzem said shifting Ms Alamgir to another country such as Singapore would put her treatment back at least six months and endanger her health.
He is attempting to secure sponsorship from his employer to remain in Australia, but Ms Alamgir’s health problems are proving a complicated hurdle.
Mr Moazzem said despite the bulk of his wife’s cancer treatment being covered by insurance, the costs exceed the immigration department’s threshold for health care expenses for visa applicants.
??????There is a health criteria in immigration and if you can’t meet the standard they can actually refuse your visa or [refuse] to extend it,” he said.
??????If I get the sponsorship there is a health waiver for a 457 visa, so there is a way they can waive that criteria.
??????I don’t want to think about taking her anywhere. We want to stay here, get the treatment right and get a good positive outcome. Treatment-wise Australia has one of the world’s top standards.”
The keen cricketer, who represented Bangladesh as a junior, recently shared news of the pair’s struggle with his team-mates at the Footscray-Edgewater Cricket Club.
The club immediately swung into action and has raised more than $8000 through a ???GoFundMe’ page in less than a week to go towards the pair’s health and legal costs.
It has also organised a “March for Marty” fundraiser (Marty is Mr Moazzem’s nickname) at Merv G Hughes Oval in Footscray from 10.30am this Sunday, followed by a T20 game of Past and Present Players from 1pm.
Club captain Dylan Kight said the players had no hesitation in rallying around their clubmate and his wife when they heard of their plight.
“He’s not one for attention or those sort of things, but he means a lot to us so when he first explained everything that was happening it was pretty emotional,” he said.
“I think he must be pretty well aware of what he means to the playing group.”
Mr Kight said he has been overwhelmed by the community support to date and he hopes for a big turn out on Sunday.