Chinese teen ordered to leave in immigration error

An embarrassing Immigration Department blunder has caused a Melbourne teen and his community anguish after he was wrongly ordered to leave the country.

Parents, teachers and the children's commissioner were on Monday making last-minute appeals to help Chinese teen Wen Xiang ''Gary'' Mao stay in Australia to finish his high school education.

Gary, 16, moved to Australia six years ago with his parents from China on a 457 visa. His father's whereabouts are unknown and his mother was deported in September last year. Gary, 16, sees himself as Australian Chinese, barracks for the Bombers and is a high-achieving and popular student at Brunswick Secondary College.

He had been ordered to leave Australia by Wednesday as he no longer had a valid visa after his mother was deported.

But following questions from Fairfax Media to Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's office, it was revealed that an error had been made and Gary did have a visa.

Last year, former Immigration Minister Tony Burke made an intervention granting an exemption. But on January 9 the Immigration Department wrote a blunt letter to Gary. It said the minister, Mr Morrison, had decided, on December 18, that he would not intervene in Gary's case and that he had to leave.

On Monday evening, Mr Morrison's office said that Gary did in fact have a visa and that it had been a departmental error. ''The department put forward the submission for intervention by the minister in error. As the matter had already been determined, Minister Morrison has said the previous decision will stand and a visa has been granted,'' a spokesman for the minister said.

A community campaign was in full swing on Monday and had engaged Holding Redlich immigration lawyers to make a submission to the minister. Gary and his Australian guardian Amanda Hood received a call from the Immigration Department on Monday and were elated by the news.

Gary lives with Ms Hood and her husband Stephen Little. The couple took him in after he was taken into detention at Broadmeadows seven months ago.

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The story Chinese teen ordered to leave in immigration error first appeared on The Age.

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