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IMMIGRATION TIPS

Syrian-born British woman’s visa revoked 24hrs before flight to Sydney

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Zahra Ramadani

30-year-old Zahra Ramadani says she has been given no explanation for the mishap, which will see her lose thousands of dollars on travel plans.

She had planned to spend New Year’s Eve in Sydney before heading across to New Zealand.

Ms Ramadani, from west London, told ABC News that her application for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) was originally successful, but was later revoked less 24 hours before she was due to fly.

She was told she was not eligible for a visa to enter Australia.

“I went to check-in [for my flight], and I got an email from the High Commission saying it had been overruled and that I was not eligible for a visa to Australia,” she told the ABC.

“I asked what was wrong. I got a reply saying it was issued in error and it needed further time for processing.”

Ms Ramadani had originally applied for an eVisitor visa, a different type of visa that would give her similar benefits to the ETA.

Both documents would grant her access to Australia for a period of up to three months.

She said application process for the this visa was “really complicated”.

“I rang my friend and told her I needed her details, because I was asked for my companion’s details, my employer’s details, it was very ridiculous.”

Ms Ramadani’s travel companion, who is a Bahrain-born British woman, was given a different set of questions on the application form.

“When I asked [the High Commission] why I had a different form to my friend’s in the first place, I didn’t get a response. For me, the suspicion started there.

“The last time I went to Syria was about six or seven years ago. I’ve never had any problems. No convictions, nothing.”

Her companion received a message notifying her that her application had been successful.

With still no response about her application, Ms Ramadani called the helpline who told her to apply for an ETA because it would get processed faster.

Ms Ramadani received an email from the second application saying her ETA had been approved.

She only learned of an issue when she went to check-in for her flight and the airline informed her that there was a problem with her visa.

An email from the High Commission followed, confirming her visa had been revoked.

Ms Ramadani told The Guardian the whole experience had forced her to re-think future travel plans.

“To be brutally honest, all this is very off putting, and I’m beginning to think that out of principle I shouldn’t consider Australia as a holiday destination – especially that it is people of my background that are not welcome and are treated in this way.”

A spokesperson from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection told the ABC “the individual has made two separate applications for two different visas to enter Australia”.

“In such circumstances the department needs to resolve the different visa applications,” the statement said.

“The department is in contact with the individual applicant and is working to resolve the application.”

Ms Ramadani’s story is the third controversial visa story to make headlines recently.

Terminally ill Melbourne student Hassan Asif finally won his battle to have his family visit from Pakistan earlier this week after the Australian Government initially refused the applications of his mother and brother.

Hassan Asif’s family has been granted access to Australia to see him before he passes away. Photo: Mike Keating/News Corp

A UK Muslim family was also barred from boarding a flight from London to Los Angeles after they were told by a US official that their right to travel had been revoked.

The family of two adults and nine children were waiting in the departure lounge of Gatwick airport when they were notified of the situation.

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About Ayotunde Aboderin

A professional blogger, an online Journalist and a passionate Immigration and visa Affairs individual.

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