Parminder Singh, his wife, and their eight-year-old kid have been told to leave the country by May 31 and face losing their right to work. The family claims that until the government provides them with permanent residency or bridging visas, they are afraid of being deported to India.
For Mr Singh and his family, who have made a life and a home on the Gold Coast, all windows seem to be closing. The family, who faces the possibility of being sent back to India, has filed a petition in an effort to gain support for their fight for a permanent visa.
After receiving over 12,000 signatures and countless compassionate responses, their visa status has not changed. The 37-year-old claims in an interview with SBS Punjabi that going back was never an option.
“I have studied, lived, and worked here,” he claimed.
“I have an eight-year-old son who was born here and has never visited India. If deported, we would have no pathway to return, which might impact my family’s future, especially my son’s health and education,” he added.
Mr Singh arrived in Australia in 2008 on a student visa. Although he sought a bachelor’s degree in social welfare, he eventually found employment as a manager at a nearby restaurant.
He submitted an application for a regional sponsored visa (Subclass 187) in 2016 to be able to live and work permanently in regional Australia with the help of their company. Yet his visa application was turned down. After that, Mr Singh requested a ministerial intervention, but that request was also denied.
Mr Singh said, “Since I was left with no option, I decided to switch fields and return to social welfare. I was fortunate to get a job as a youth worker during (the) COVID (pandemic). But when I applied for a skill assessment, I was told I would need a further two years of experience in the field.”
“I was granted a bridging visa E in the meantime that allows me to stay here legally until I make arrangements to leave. I have been told there’s no hope for any further substantive visa, and I would have to exit the country by 31 May,” he added.
Mr Singh claims that during this time, he submitted an application for a second ministerial intervention, this one based on his new position. He said he is still awaiting word on the situation nonetheless.
“I still have a few months before I can complete my two years’ work experience as a youth worker position, on the basis of which I can reapply for skills assessment and then another application for permanent residency. But if they deport me before then, I will have no pathway to return to Australia,” he told SBS.
Many skilled immigrants who have lived in Australia for years but are unclear about their ability to stay permanently can relate to Mr Singh’s situation. The government should modify the parameters for temporary skilled migration, according to a comprehensive five-year review of Australia’s economic policy that was published last month.
Longer temporary visa terms were supported by the review, but with more difficult paths to permanent status. The commission also suggested adjustments that would make it simpler for employees who are sponsored by their employers to switch jobs.
The review notes that although permanent immigration should not be expected of those with temporary skilled migration visas, pathways to permanent migration should be offered through redesigned employer-sponsored and independent skilled visas.
The Albanese government continues to support providing immigrants with the safety that comes with a road to permanent residency.
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles stated in a speech to the Law Council of Australia that a permanent road to residency was essential if the nation wants to continue luring the finest and brightest people from across the world.
The Immigration Minister stated that a migration system that keeps people in limbo undermines the integrity on which the migration system should be founded. “A migration system that facilitates this human uncertainty reduces Australia’s attractiveness on the world stage and harms our national interest,” he added.
Mr Giles continued by saying that the administration was dedicated to bringing back a migration system built on integrity and certainty. The government has approved more than 5.4 million temporary and immigrant visas as of the end of February.