ESPN Cricinfo are reporting three English cricket writers must leave Australia because of their visa status.
Australia’s tougher immigration laws are set to see three English tabloid journalists expelled and unable to cover the death throes of England’s disastrous Ashes tour.
They are the only three members of England’s travelling press pack who had opted to cover the entire tour, including the warm-up matches, and so had gone beyond 90 days. “We had hoped to stay long enough to see England win a match,” Etheridge said.
To clarify, this has nothing to do with “tougher immigration laws”. 90 days is a standard time period for short stay business visas. Tourists and workers to countries such as the U.S. and to the European ‘Schengen’ area are also subject to a 90 day stay.
The most interesting part of the story is where the journalists were “travelling on a working visa which had been recommended by the Australian visa department”. I remember being told repeatedly by various people and policy guidance within the Department of Immigration not to provide advice to people, only information. This mantra is highly impractical and ridiculously risk adverse. Yet those who preach it will hark to incidents such as this one.
Unfortunately these types of incidents will reflect poorly on the public service, who are obliged to follow legislation and policy. Short stay visas were tightened up last year and given the large number granted (hundreds of thousands every year), are rarely dealt with on a case-by-case situation.
Many will ask why this is allowed to happen and the journalists should just be able to receive an extension. This is akin to asking a standard bank teller for a extension on your home loan repayment. The individual is unlikely to have the power to grant it and even if they did, it would quickly become unwieldy as customers (or in this case business migrants) sought to take advantage of it. An efficient and individualistic immigration bureaucracy for a country like Australia is a pipe dream. The flip side to this particular incident is a system that is able to process millions of visas which are approved nearly instantly.