Mohamed Haneef's Australian 457 visa restored

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The Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Evans, announced that Dr Mohammed Haneef's temporary 457 visa would be restored today, following a Federal Court decision.

Haneef's visa was revoked by Evans' predecessor, Kevin Andrews, in connection with the investigation into the failed bombing attacks in the UK in June 2007.

Following the attacks, Dr Sabeel Ahmed and Dr Kafeel Ahmed were arrested. Haneef, second cousin to both men, was subsequently charged with supplying them with a SIM card. However, the charge was later dropped.

Andrews used wording in the current Australian Migration Act to revoke his visa, stating that his connection with the men meant that Haneef failed the character test which is one of the requirements for a migrant to be able to live and work in Australia.

The Federal Court decided that Andrews had applied an interpretation of the law that was too wide and that association with criminals had to be more than "mateship". It had to be sympathy for, or support of, or involvement in the criminal conduct of those involved.

Andrews appealed the decision before leaving office but the court dismissed his request.

"Having reviewed the latest Australian Federal Police information in the light of today's court decision, I have decided not to take action to cancel Dr Haneef's visa," Evans said. "Dr Haneef will be able to return to Australia to work under the conditions of his current 457 Temporary Long Stay visa should he wish to do so."

According to Evans, the court's judgement to dismiss the appeal set a "higher standard" for the application of the test. He also hinted that the matter of Haneef's visa is not entirely over.

"I am seeking the Solicitor-General's advice on the way in which the court has interpreted the relevant sections of the Migration Act as to whether the standard has been set too high," Evans said.

"Subject to the Solicitor-General's advice, it would be my intention to consider a possible appeal to the High Court and/or the need for changes to the Migration Act," he added. "Should any further relevant information come to light in relation to Dr Haneef, I will re-examine the situation at that time."

Haneef's visa is now valid until 2010. It is unknown whether he will return to Australia.