A bizarre caveat means a Ukrainian refugee staying in Australia cannot bury her son.
The Australian government has warned against Ievgeniia Kuscherenko flying to attend the funeral for her 53-year-old son Glib Babich, who died fighting against Russia.
If she does, her humanitarian visa status in Australia will be retracted and she won’t be able to come back.
She wrote a plea for an exemption to the rule, with her embassy calling on the Australian government “to consider as an exception a possibility for her current visa to remain in force” in “tragic circumstances”.
But the response was unwavering.
“Ukrainian nationals who hold a subclass 449 can depart Australia if they want to,” Australia’s Department of Home Affairs responded.
“Visas will however, cease upon departure. There are no exemptions to this policy.”
News.com.au has contacted the Home Affairs Department and Immigration Minister Andrew Giles for comment.
Ms Kuscherenko’s friend Larysa Williams told 9News the whole situation was “absurd”.
She pointed out that if Ms Kuscherenko was forced to stay in Ukraine, she would probably follow her son into death as her hometown has suffered serious losses thanks to Russia.
“More than likely then her other son would have to go back and bury his mother,” Ms Williams said.
“We’re hoping that the new immigration minister is able to look into this matter, and be able to get the right outcome.”
Ms Kuscherenko’s daughter-in-law Katya also told the publication there “must be more than a generic response” than what she received.
“Especially for a mother who needs to and must say goodbye to her son,” she added.
She revealed the family is now “hoping for a miracle”.
Ms Kuscherenko’s son died fighting on the front lines.
Russia illegally invaded Ukraine on February 24 and since then the country has been thrown into turmoil.
The Australian government quickly announced a special three-year visa that gave Ukrainians working rights, access to health and government benefits and also free English lessons if they needed it.
The federal government has approved at least 4000 visas for Ukrainians to come to Australia.