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Perth mum’s immigration dilemma

When Michelle Budd’s marriage ended, she never expected it would spark a complex immigration case, which has left her struggling to support three kids.

The New Zealand citizen moved to Australia in 2005, with her young son Benjamin in tow. She started work as a hairdresser, married an Australian man and had two children with him.

‘It’s not until recently that my marriage fell apart, due to domestic violence, that I realised I was on the wrong visa, so I was not classed as a permanent resident,’ she told 6PR’s Chris Ilsley.

‘After living here for 10 years, I wasn’t entitled to a single parent benefit or anything of the sort to support my three children on my own.’

Ms Budd has qualified for a small payment of approximately $250 per week, but was initially told she was not allowed to work and that her 12-year-old son, who was born in New Zealand, was not allowed to attend school.

The pair have since been granted a bridging visa – which allows work and study – while they face a wait of up to six years for a decision about their permanent residency.

‘Apparently they only do 500 of these types of visa a year and at the moment, they’re processing August 2010,’ Ms Budd said.

‘I couldn’t do this without the support of my family and my parents. They’ve given me food, they buy my groceries, they help with the kids. Life isn’t cheap.

‘There are stipulations too – I’m not allowed to leave the country… or I’d have to start my visa application all over again and at this point it has already cost me roughly $6000 to apply for the visa.’

All New Zealand citizens who moved to Australia after 26 February 2001 have to apply for, and be granted, a permanent visa before they are eligible for Centrelink assistance. More information is available at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website.

Listen to the full interview with Michelle Budd below:

For more Perth Tonight stories, click here.

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