French Chef Damien Pigot and his partner Sandy Mendy look set to be deported from Australia.
French Chef Damien Pigot and his partner Sandy Mendy look set to be deported from Australia. Scott Powick NEWSCORP

On the brink of deportation

A FRENCH couple on the brink of deportation have been handed a lifeline after they were granted a visa extension of two more weeks.

The Tweed Daily News reported last week that Damien Pigot and Sandy Mendy, who have owned popular 3 Sea cafe at Tweed Heads South since 2012, were told by immigration they had until October 1 before they must pack up their lives and head back to France.

Mr Pigot, who has lived and worked legally in Australia for 15 years, has been advised he does not qualify for a new visa or have the ability to become a permanent resident of the country.

He has since reached out to the Department of Home Affairs and the Immigration Department for ministerial intervention but has been told he did not qualify.

French Chef Damien Pigot who has just today and tomorrow to find out whether they can stay in Australia legally or be deported.
French Chef Damien Pigot who has just today and tomorrow to find out whether they can stay in Australia legally or be deported. Scott Powick NEWSCORP

Mr Pigot said he was now resigned to the fact he would likely have to leave the country he loved.

"In the Australian National Anthem it says 'from those who come across the sea we've boundless plains to share', but obviously immigration doesn't believe in that value,” he said.

"In Australia you always go for the underdog, you always give people a fair go, but that doesn't seem to be happening here.

"We're still waiting on something official but the time is getting very short.

"If we don't get an answer in the next few days we'll have to sell our goods and organise our departure.

"As soon as we start selling the gear we won't be able to come back.”

Mr Pigot said he was overwhelmed by the amount of support he had not only received from locals, but from supporters in Perth, Melbourne and even Tasmania.

"We have been busy every lunchtime since your story ran, we've been struggling to keep up,” he said.

"We're still here so we still hope, but sometimes I feel a bit anxious.”

French Chef Damien Pigot who has just today and tomorrow to find out whether they can stay in Australia legally or be deported.
French Chef Damien Pigot who has just today and tomorrow to find out whether they can stay in Australia legally or be deported. Scott Powick NEWSCORP

He said a new petition had been set up to help them stay in Australia, which is available on the 3 Sea Facebook page.

He said the couple would spend the next two weeks selling equipment from their business to fund their plane tickets and move their belongings back to France, while also enjoying what time they had left.

"The last five years we've been uncertain about our future due to this visa issue and just want to take our lives back whether it's in Australia or not,” Mr Pigot said.

"One thing we want to go to is Uluru, that's the one thing we haven't done.

"I've never been to the Red Centre, so I hope we'll have a bit of time to do a bit of a drive about and have time to say goodbye to everyone.”

French couple Damien Pigot and Sandy Mendy will be deported from Australia after they failed to qualify for ministerial intervention.
French couple Damien Pigot and Sandy Mendy will be deported from Australia after they failed to qualify for ministerial intervention. Scott Powick

Mr Pigot said the couple would be throwing a party on Saturday at their French restaurant regardless of their visa outcome.

"It could be our last day open and it seems to be the last day but there's nothing official from the minister yet,” he said.

"The Mayor Katie Milne has even tried to help but she hasn't heard anything either.

"You never know, as long as we're here there's a chance, we're not in a plane yet so something could happen.”

Getting ready for the Taste of Tweed last year is French chef Damien Pigot from 3 Sea Cafe.
Getting ready for the Taste of Tweed last year is French chef Damien Pigot from 3 Sea Cafe. Scott Powick


Pushing the boundaries as cabaret comes to Coffs

Premium Content Pushing the boundaries as cabaret comes to Coffs

It’s time to turn up the heat once again at the Coffs Regional Conservatorium this...

‘I follow my heart’: The Coffs hero who’s changing lives

Premium Content ‘I follow my heart’: The Coffs hero who’s changing lives

The Aus Day nominee volunteers an incredible 60 hours a week.

Bigger and better: Archibald Prize like you have never seen

Premium Content Bigger and better: Archibald Prize like you have never seen

Entire iconic collection to exhibit in Coffs for first time