The Indian national must spend at least 2 years apart and re-apply for a partner visa in order to return to Australia.
Time is running out for Victorian father Gagandeep Singh, an Indian national, who is on the verge of being deported back to his native country. He has been given orders to leave the country by Wednesday, 11 May, when his temporary bridging visa will expire.
Gagandeep had come to Australia 14 years ago on a student visa in 2009. He now has an Australian wife, Phoebe, whom he met in 2012 and married in 2015. They have a three-year-old son, Jarro and live in Sale, in Gippsland, Victoria. He runs his own trucking business and his wife is an aged care worker.
Singh is now facing years of separation from his young family unless Immigration Minister Alex Hawke comes to his aid to grant him a partner visa. Otherwise, he will have to spend at least two years in India in order to get his partner visa approved by authorities.
Immigration lawyer, Joseph Italiano, who is representing Gagandeep has said his client was paying the price for an Australian immigration rule that prevents people from applying for a partner visa twice while onshore. Singh had applied for a partner visa previously with another woman with whom he had a relationship a decade ago. Consequently, that relationship had not worked and they had separated.
As a result of this, Gagandeep is unable to apply for a partner visa for the second time, even though he is married to Phoebe and has a child with her.
“He couldn’t lodge a new partner visa because he’d already lodged one before and the law stops you lodging two in Australia,” Gagandeep’s lawyer Italiano told 9News recently.
“It is really cruel and inhumane to remove a father from a three-year-old for two years when the father can come back by applying for a partner visa offshore,” he said.
Gagandeep’s family is worried how they will cope mentally and financially without him while he is offshore waiting for visa approval. They had requested for a ministerial intervention in 2019 which got rejected in April this year.
Phoebe cannot move with her husband to India because she has severe mental and health issues which she believes would not be dealt with appropriately there. Moreover, Gagandeep’s hometown in India does not approve of interracial marriages, and hence there would be difficulty in coping with that too.
In March this year, the young family has received a letter of support from Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, for a Ministerial Intervention. Little Jarro’s kindergarten and the local day-care centre have also written letters of support.
An online petition to keep Gagandeep’s family together has gained over 1,300 signatures so far. People have given their reasons for support on the website.
“This is inhumane,” wrote one supporter. “Let him stay with his family…it’s not like he’s doing anything other than live a normal family life supporting his family like any other good Australian does.”
“This man is a loving husband…he is also an awesome dad and a hard-working man who contributes to our economy for 10 years,” wrote another.