A Scottish family desperate to stay in Australia is reaching for one last ray of hope as a deadline for their deportation looms next week.
Electricity expert Mark Green, 44, was headhunted for his specialist solar installation skills in 2012 and flew to Australia with his wife Kelly, 45, and daughter Rebecca, 19.
They moved around the world with permanent residency sponsored by the company that flew him in, but it never happened and the struggle to stay has already cost them over $150,000.
The Australian government has so far given no indication that it is willing to compromise on the matter, but Mr Green said there may be positive news on the horizon.
“Our lawyer seems to think we can challenge it,” he told the Daily Mail Australia on Friday.
“He has given me a decision to make, whether we stay in the country and fight it (or fly back to Scotland).”
Mark Green (left) and wife Kelly moved 16,000km from Scotland to their new home in Adelaide, with their permanent residency sponsored by the company that flew him in
“Maybe we can get a bridging visa to stay in the country and fight it, but it won’t be an easy battle.
“It could take five years or more,” he said.
Mr Green has been stung by the injustice of what is happening to him, his wife and daughter. Their son Jamie has already returned to Scotland after being unable to work in Australia due to visa requirements.
“We’ve never done anything wrong,” he said.
The family was undone by companies that sponsored him as an employee and started a three-year trajectory to residency, but went bankrupt before the process was complete.
‘Because I have a visa, the visa will stop if (my boss) closes his company.
“The company has been liquidated and that means I have to start over, all three years, all over again,” said Mr Green, originally from Prestwick, Ayrshire.
The family (pictured) has had a sponsored work visa since arriving, meaning they have to pay for everything Australians take for granted, in addition to paying their taxes
How does Australia’s immigration system work?
Australia has a number of different immigration systems, all of which are tightly controlled.
A popular method is to be sponsored by an Australian company.
Employers must select a role to be filled from the government’s list of skilled occupations.
Once a role is selected, immigration authorities evaluate the nomination and determine whether it meets their criteria.
Candidates are assessed on a number of different factors, including age, English proficiency, education, health, character and what the market salaries are.
In recent years, Australia has also relaxed its visas for low-skilled workers — including visas specifically targeting agriculture and fisheries — amid a global demand for people to fill low-skilled labor.
Mr Green said he always worked hard and went out of his way to prove his worth to employers.
‘I sometimes worked 16-hour days and got paid for eight.
“Because I have a visa and expect employers to help me, I feel like I have to push that little bit extra to show them that I’m worth keeping, that I’m worth it (helping create a residence permit),’ he said.
‘It breaks me. It really breaks me.’
The Greens have fully embraced the Australian lifestyle over the past decade, to the point of becoming diehard AFL fans.
‘We support Port Adelaide. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing. Many Adelaide Crows supporters may not be following me now,” said Mr Green with a laugh – a rare luxury in a very stressful time.
‘This is where I live. Here is my heart. It will never change. Even if I go back to Scotland I will be considered home here,” he said.
His wife is equally distraught at the prospect of leaving their beloved Adelaide.
‘I do not want to go home. Not me. I really don’t,” she sobbed in their empty Adelaide home after they sold everything.
“It was the best day of our lives to come here. Best day ever,” said Mrs Green, originally from Kilbirnie, 25 miles south-west of Glasgow.
The family’s sponsored work visa status meant they had to pay for everything Australians take for granted, in addition to paying their taxes.
They were denied access to Medicare or free state education for daughter Rebecca, which costs them $8,000 a year, but they say they paid without complaint.
Electricity expert Mark Green (pictured), 44, was headhunted in 2012 for his specialist solar installation skills and flew to Australia with his wife and family
Moving to the UK will force them to abandon their beloved dog Maisie (pictured with mother Kelly, left and daughter Rebecca) due to prohibitive $35,000 flights and quarantine costs
“The government has a responsibility to protect me as a foreign worker who was invited to work in Australia and was abandoned by an Australian company.”
As the deadline for their forced departure approaches, the desperate situation takes its toll on the family’s ghosts.
“The stress is terrible. Absolutely awful. It’s not fair. Not fair at all,” said Mr. Green.
“No one has contacted me to resolve this. All they say to me is that I have to leave the country.
However, the shock of their situation has led to widespread publicity.
Mark Green (pictured) and his family desperate to stay in Australia but are being deported
Mr Green appeared on a radio station in London on Friday morning and has an interview with a British breakfast show on Monday.
“I don’t know what it can do at home, but all I can do is try everything I can,” he said.
“I thought I’d have my own business and my own house now, but our lives are in turmoil instead.”
Their case has been taken up by Adelaide politician Frank Pangallo, who compared them to the Tamil Murugappan family from Bilgoela in Queensland, whose visa requirements were changed to allow them to stay despite arriving by boat.
Their case has now been taken up by Adelaide politician Frank Pangallo (pictured), who compared them to the Tamil Murugappan family from Bilgoela in Queensland, whose visa requirements were changed to allow them to stay despite arriving by boat
“They didn’t do it legally, unlike the Greens, and they got preferential treatment,” Mr Pangallo of South Australia’s Best Party told the Daily Mail Australia.
“Forcing a family to leave a country they’ve called home for ten years, simply to return to their country of origin and reapply to return to Oz, seems pointless and ridiculous.
“And all of this is happening as governments grapple with changes in the country’s skilled migration program due to massive shortages across the country.”
Mr Pangallo added: ‘If you want skilled migrants to enter this country, you’d better promise them that they can stay here and not be turned away when it suits you.
“It’s absolutely disgusting.”
A spokeswoman for new Labor Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said he will not comment on individual cases, but he has commented extensively on the Biloela case.
Despite having a good chance of continuing to fight, Mr Green is prepared for the worst.
‘I have nothing to send home. I don’t take anything home except three suitcases and three people.
The Greens will have to find a new home for Maisie (pictured) if they have to leave Australia
“I can’t afford to send all my stuff home. I had to sell everything I worked hard for ten and a half years.
“I feel completely let down. The government should have a policy of standing up for those guys who come here to build a life for themselves,” he said.
In addition to all their belongings, deportation would force the Greens to abandon their beloved dog Maisie due to the prohibitive cost of flights and quarantine costs of $35,000.