Theo Mamalis and Leanna Roper.
Theo Mamalis and Leanna Roper. Contributed

Dodgy visa scam threatens to tear couple apart

AN AMERICAN woman says she was ripped off by a dodgy migration company and now faces the prospect of being deported from the man and country she loves.

Leanna Réné Roper has been with her partner Theo Mamalis for six years after meeting him on the internet.

Mr Mamalis visited Ms Roper in the United States in 2011. In 2012 she moved to Toowoomba at the age of 20 to be with him.

"I was on a working holiday visa for 12 months then a family member recommended this migration company," she said.

"They turned out to be scammers and they turned around and deleted everything about the company as they moved from Gladstone to Sydney."

In January the Department of Immigration and Border Protection told her there wasn't enough information and she would have to leave in March.

"So we went to a migration company here in Toowoomba which has been helping us try to fight immigration so I can stay here since I have been doing TAFE and working," Ms Roper said.

The couple spent more than $20,000 just trying to keep Ms Roper in Australia.

She is on a bridging visa while she waits for her case to be reviewed by migration agents.

It could take up to 12 months for her case to be heard.

After her experience, she said people had to be careful about choosing migration agents.

"It's not worth the money and everything they (the first company) did we could have done ourselves," she said.

She hopes authorities will let her stay.

"I've been a good 'citizen', paid taxes, haven't broken laws, I've been working and going to school. Nothing should be making this difficult at all."