Janita Dickens holds a picture of her son. Ms Dickens lost her job because of coronavirus restrictions and is worried it will impact her already fragile visa application. Picture: Tony Martin
Janita Dickens holds a picture of her son. Ms Dickens lost her job because of coronavirus restrictions and is worried it will impact her already fragile visa application. Picture: Tony Martin

Mum’s visa at risk after coronavirus job loss

CORONAVIRUS claimed Janita Dickens's job, and now it might also take her son, her friends and the life she has built in Australia.

After spending years and more than $30,000 on a visa application linked to her job as a tattoo store manager, the Mackay mum - who also works as a self-employed cosmetic tattooist - has no idea where to turn after government rules closed her practice, leaving the application in limbo.

Health regulation changes last month forced the closure of in-store beauty therapy, nail, spa and tattoo parlours across the country.

The reality of losing her job, which is linked to her application, means she risks being forced to leave once her bridging visa runs out.

Four years ago the UK national made the leap to Queensland with her then-husband on a 457 family visa sponsored by his employer.

The couple split and Ms Dickens and their six-year-old son lost their visas.

"I came over here (with my ex-husband), they wanted a teacher … they spent lots of money on visas to get us across here … and brought me over here and now won't support me," she said.

Janita Dickens goes through her visa paperwork. Picture: Tony Martin
Janita Dickens goes through her visa paperwork. Picture: Tony Martin

When she lost her 457 visa, Miss Dickens reapplied for a sponsored migration visa linked to her job.

She was brought to tears as she thought about her future without her job, without an income and how those two things would impact her costly application.

"I've worked here for four years self-employed and not asked for a cent from anybody, I look after myself," she said.

"(I'm) in a country on my own with no family … it's really been a struggle.

There is a chance Miss Dickens could qualify for welfare wage support later this month.

Adding to her burden, is the worry that if she can't secure a visa she will be forced to take her son away from his father, or leave him behind.

"Me and my son could have to go home.

"My ex-husband had two children since we separated, my son now has a brother and sister here and I don't want to be the one at the airport ripping my son away from his family.

"I could have put my son on my ex-husband's visa but then if I still got a 'no' there (is) a chance I could lose my son."

Ms Dicken's said she felt there had not been any understanding during the visa application process and it had been made worse by the impact of coronavirus.

"As my lawyer said, they only care about the job, they don't care about the compassionate side," she said.

"The bigger picture needs to be looked at when you submit an application, it shows on there that I have an ex-husband and that he has got two children. It is not just us who will be affected."

The Department of Home Affairs was contacted for comment.


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