- An Iraqi refugee, a one-time physio to the Iraqi soccer team, has had his right to work in Melbourne restored.
- In 2020, a new bridging visa was issued. Unlike his previous visa, it contained no work rights.
- Thamer Alkhammat is hoping a spousal visa is granted after marrying an Australian, with whom he has a child.
After telling his story to The Sunday Age, Thamer Alkhammat feared the worst.
The one-time physiotherapist to the Iraqi soccer team who was dubbed “Melbourne’s best Uber driver” after receiving a single $200 tip, had found out that his hard-won work rights had disappeared, and he feared deportation.
Iraqi Uber driver Thamer Alkhammat with his wife Elisha van den Brink and two-month-old daughter Amira.Credit:Joe Armao
Alkhammat, who married two years ago and has a two-month-old daughter, went public last week to illustrate the travails many migrants face when up against the often impenetrable workings of the bureaucracy, in this case, the Department of Home Affairs.
And after the publication of his story in The Sunday Age, at 7.33am on Monday the Uber driver and received an email from temporary partner visa unit inviting him to apply to regain his work rights.
And on Tuesday at 11:19am he was sent a further visa telling him that he had successfully regained his work rights.
“It was surprising that my work rights were granted so quickly, which makes me wonder why my spousal visa is taking so long, especially after having a baby,” Alkhammat told The Sunday Age.
“However I am happy that I am able to provide for my family now.”
Alkhammat has achieved fame in the Melbourne Uber community and hit the headlines after receiving a single tip of $200 from one customer and was dubbed “Melbourne’s top Uber driver”. Passengers in his Hyundai i30 notice his sweet-smelling essential oils, bespoke chill-out music, Turkish lollies, bottled water, phone charger and Wi-Fi.
The Iraqi man arrived here in 2016 after he was invited to address a conference. He then applied for refugee protection when Iraqi news reports referring to his previous kidnapping and torture surfaced again, leading to him fearing for his safety.
As part of this refugee protection process and subsequent appeal, he applied for and was granted work rights.
Alkhammat married Van den Brink in June 2020, and they settled in Clayton in Melbourne’s east with Elisha’s two step children and the couple’s two-month-old baby, Amira, which means princess.
But when the driver discontinued his refugee application in the hope that his spousal visa application would soon be granted, his work rights from his refugee protection visa did not transfer across to the spousal bridging visa.
But those work rights were restored by the department last week.
Meanwhile, Alkhammat’s application for his spousal visa remain “in process”.
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