An international student convicted of tending a marijuana crop in a Melbourne house has won a battle to remain in the country on a student visa.
Vietnamese woman Thi Hong Tran was granted a student visa in October 2012 and arrived in Australia shortly after.
The now 26-year-old ran low on money in early 2013 after her parent’s support was reduced and she struggled pay to her university fees.
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal was told word got back to people who prey on vulnerable international students and Tran was offered $2,000 to water and feed 213 cannabis plants in a house in Cranbourne.
The arrangement allowed her to stay at the house rent-free and she was to be paid more money at the end of the cultivation period.
On May 21, 2013 police raided the house and arrested Tran, charging her with cultivating a commercial quantity of a narcotic plant.
She was convicted in the County Court of Victoria in November 2014 and received an 18-month suspended prison sentence as well as being put on a two-year good behaviour bond.
Tran’s student visa expired in August 2015, but her application for an extension was denied.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection ruled Tran did not pass the character test under the Migration Act.
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has now overturned that decision on the grounds Tran was unlikely to reoffend.
In her ruling the tribunal’s deputy president Stephanie Forgie acknowledged the seriousness of Tran’s offending but concluded she was naive and desperate for money at the time.
“Her naivety and her misplaced understanding that she should not ask her parents for further finances led her to placing herself in that position,” her ruling stated.
Tran has maintained her studies since the conviction and has almost completed a master’s degree.
“The impact upon her of not having completed her Master’s degree will be significant,” Ms Forgie’s ruling stated.
“I would not want to see a young person’s life be changed by one bad decision when she was a long way from home and has since done so much to rehabilitate herself and earned the respect of her counsellors as well as of her husband and friends.”
Originally published by ABC.