British couple told to leave Australia because they are too old to apply for permanent residency have managed to stay for another year – but fear separation from their daughter.
Sheena Tunnicliff , 51, and husband Glen, 57, were told they had to leave their home of seven years in Perth, Western Australia, by August because Glen’s work as a plasterer is ending as the company that sponsored his visa winds up.
Mrs Tunnicliff told the Standard: “It’s kept us up all night worrying. There have been lots of tears, lots of heartache.
“Anyone that’s over the age of 45 and under the age of 65 – there’s just that very fine line where there are no visas.”
The couple emigrated from East Sussex in 2015 with their two daughters and have managed to live and work in Australia through a combination of skilled migrant visas issued to either Sheena, a travel agent and business owner, and Glen, a plasterer, over the years.
To avoid uprooting back to the UK, the couple have now managed to secure a Covid-related visa for another year, but say their options will run out when it expires.
However their eldest daughter Tamzin, aged 21, has applied to be a permanent resident through her work as a nurse and, if accepted, could stay in Australia on her own.
Mrs Tunnicliff is calling for Australia’s immigration minister to review her family’s case so they don’t become separated and raise the age limit of 45 for permanent residency.
She said: “It’s a no man’s land because if you’re over 65 you can go on a parent’s visa. If you’re under 45, there are plenty of visas. It’s just that little gap between ages [where] there absolutely isn’t anything else for anybody.”
Mrs Tunnicliff said the stress has been “absolutely awful” for their two daughters, Tamzin, and Molly, 18, and is “mentally taking a toll on everybody”.
“It’s constantly on our mind. We’ve really had enough after seven years, we just want to call this place home.
“But obviously we’ve got all these challenges ahead of us.”
With their eldest daughter eligible to stay in Australia on her own, Mr and Mrs Tunnicliff said they plan to move to New Zealand with their youngest – rather than back to the UK – to be closer to her, if kicked out of Australia.
Mrs Tunnicliff plans to keep an eye on the travel agent branch which she owns from there.
She said: “As much as we’d want to go home back to the UK, [it would mean] being apart from our children, it’s a 24 hour flight away.
“New Zealand’s only a six-hour hop from Perth to Auckland. So it’s going to be closer to our children rather than leaving them on the other side of the world.”
The family has launched a petition on Change.org that has attracted more than 15,000 signatures.
A lawyer representing the family is also set to write a letter to request a ministerial intervention, Mrs Tunnicliff said.
Australia’s Department of Home Affairs has been approached for comment.