Described as an “asset” to her company, a Thai chef in Australia faces deportation after failing an English exam more than 15 times in an attempt to gain citizenship.
Sky Sinjack has been working for JunEdelmuth Catering, located in Sydney’s Double Bay in Australia, since 2015. She has been residing in the country through a 457 visa, which allows foreign skilled employees to work for an approved business for up to four years. With the sponsorship of her company, Sinjack has been able to stay longer than the four years permitted by the visa.
In an effort to gain citizenship, Sinjack has attempted the mandatory English exam more than 15 times, failing her most recent exam by one point off the required score of 50.
Sinjack’s employers, Steve and June Edelmuth, have been doing everything they can to help her stay in the county and pass the exam.
“We’ve sent her for lessons, we’ve sent her on courses, and besides, the cost factor has been enormous. We’ve spent over $20,000,” Steve told “A Current Affair.”
Sinjack has been struggling in the spelling portions of the exam, which her coworker, bar manager Julie Hugging, described as having questions that are “very difficult” and “meaningless.”
“She’s coming down in errors of dictation where they’re asking her to write words like ‘psychologist, psychoanalyst’, all words that are meaningless to her, and she is just failing in that area all the time,” Hugging told the news program. “We were practicing one day before a test and I’ve got to tell you, it’s very hard. I thought, a lot of Australians couldn’t spell these words, let alone they say it so fast and then you have to write it out.”
Sinjack also believes that the words used in the exam are at the “university” level and wouldn’t be used in everyday vocabulary. She added that it has been difficult for her to spell out the words because they are read out too quickly.
Adam Byrnes, an immigration lawyer, believes that if a foreign individual is able to demonstrate that they have successfully found employment and integrated into Australia, then exceptions should be made when obtaining citizenship. He also suggested that the English exam be revised and requested for a review.
“I definitely think there needs to be discretion when it comes to looking at visa applicants, especially when they’ve been working for a substantial period of time in Australia already,” Byrnes said.
Australia’s Department of Home Affairs sent a statement to “A Current Affair” that read: “The government remains committed to using English language requirements in migration legislation as a means to effectively manage immigration risk and ensure visa holders are able to fully participate in the Australian community.”
June and Steve are fighting to keep Sinjack in Australia and have described her as being an important member of both their business and the country.
“She is definitely not only an asset to us, she is an asset to the hospitality industry and to Australia,” she said.
Sinjack recently applied for a 482 visa which will allow her stay an extra two years if approved.
Featured Image via A Current Affair