In 2012, Lance arrived in Australia as a skilled migrant from a country in West Africa. In 2015, he went back home to marry his fiancé, Sarah. Shortly after their wedding, Sarah’s brother and his wife were tragically killed in a natural disaster. In accordance with their custom, Sarah took on the responsibility of caring for her orphaned niece (12) and nephew (7).
When he returned to Australia, Lance took on a second job to save the nearly $10,000 needed to sponsor Sarah and the children for visas to join him in Australia, while sending as much money home as he could spare back to support Sarah and the children.
The children’s visas were refused because Sarah had not legally adopted them. With IARC’s help, Lance challenged the refusal at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, arguing that the Department of Home Affairs had incorrectly applied the law and failed to consider customary adoption which is recognised in Australian migration law. IARC helped Lance gather evidence proving Sarah’s relationship with the children including school and medical records and DNA evidence and prepared legal submissions about customary adoption in the region. In May 2021, the Tribunal found in favour of Lance and Sarah and set aside the decision.
When their case was returned to the Department for finalisation, IARC worked with Lance and his lawyers back home to obtain court orders permitting the children to leave their home country and the visas were granted.
Sarah and the children had not been able to reunite with Lance due to the challenges of travelling during the pandemic but the family hoped to reunite in Australia by Christmas.