Hundreds of Indian families have expressed anguish over major delays in issuing visitor visas to family members by the Australian High Commission in India.
After SBS Punjabi highlighted the case study of an Adelaide family caught in a visa delay of a family member, hundreds more have contacted us with similar complaints of unexplained delays in processing visa applications by the Australian High Commission in India.
Jasjit Virdi told SBS Punjabi that he's had to cancel his mother-in-law’s air tickets once because of a delay in processing his visa application which he submitted on March 28.
“I wonder if we are all being pushed into applying in the emergency quota, where applicants have to pay $1000 extra fees for speedy processing. We didn't apply in that category, thinking that it should be left for applicants with a genuine emergency - but now I wonder if this is a money-making exercise," he told SBS Punjabi Radio on Monday.
But, Mr Virdi is not alone. Several others have contacted SBS Punjabi since airing Mr Virdi’s interview on the program, some of them have been waiting for months for visitor visas of their family members.
Vish Vyas’ parents-in-law applied for visitor visas in January this year and have not received any outcome so far.
“We are trying to contact VFS but the services are pathetic as we are not able to even speak with anyone and the phone keeps on repeating the same message,” Mr Vyas told SBS Punjabi.
“I am so appalled with the degree of poor customer service at VFS and Australian High Commission but it is falling on deaf ears.”
Ajay Pal Singh and his wife both work full time. His younger brother and his wife are also in Australia.
Their parents have been taking care of their children while they and their spouses are at work.
However, this time around his mother hasn’t received a response to her application for a visitor visa filed on March 9.
She has also submitted her medical tests on March 25.
“We are struggling to look after our kids as they one and six-years-old.
“We are paying a lot of money for child care services and it's really hard to manage the early morning and after hours care,” he said.
The normal processing time for a visitor visa requiring a medical examination is six weeks.
Abhinav Sood is also enduring a "stressful waiting game" for a visitor visa for his sister and nephew, who he says have been to Australia before and never faced delays in visa processing.
The application was lodged on April 6, and despite a processing time of four weeks, they haven’t been issued the visas.
"They [his sister and newphew] booked their tickets in advance, as everyone does, to get the best fare possible and are meant to fly Saturday the 12th of May. The following weekend we are meant to fly to Cairns for a family trip which has been all paid for.”
“Have they now started a monthly quota? Are they wanting us to pay for their emergency visas now? Is money all they really think of and want? Is this, along the lines of long stay visa for parents, going to help bring surplus to this economy?” says Mr Sood.
Many people have informed SBS Punjabi that their family members have had to cancel their air tickets because the visas were not issued within the timeframe.
SBS Punjabi has contacted the VFS and the Australian High Commission in India for comment.