The parents and siblings of two-year-old Mustafa are rejoicing after the Australian government granted him a child visa, meaning the family will soon be reunited in Adelaide after five months apart.
Asad Bukhari, his wife Yusra and their two children moved from Pakistan to Adelaide earlier this year.
Their arrival was bittersweet as they were forced to leave their two-year-old son Mustafa behind in Pakistan with his grandparents, as his visa hadn’t arrived in time.
After more than five months of separation and eight-and-a-half months since they lodged the application, the parents received the news they were desperately waiting for on Tuesday when Mustafa was granted a child visa.
And the family “can’t wait to be reunited”.
- Mustafa, 2, was granted a child visa after five months separated from his family
- The Home Affairs department does not specify processing times for Subclass 101 Child visas
- Asad Bukhari and his wife Yusra say they “can’t wait to be reunited” with their son
'At the time, nothing was making sense'
The family was granted Australian permanent residency in 2015.
At the time, Asad travelled to Adelaide to fulfil his entry requirements before going back to Pakistan.
In March 2018, Yusra gave birth to Mustafa, but Asad did not apply for his newborn son to be included in his permanent residency grant as the family had not decided when they were going to move to Australia.
In November 2019, he finally applied for his son’s visa, four months before they planned to make the move to South Australia. The parents assumed it would give them enough time before they left.
However, it did not arrive, and Asad said they had no choice but to leave Mustafa in Pakistan with his grandparents as the family’s permanent residency visa was due to expire in February.
“In this situation, we decided to leave him [with our parents] and as soon as the child visa is granted, my wife can travel and bring him to Australia,” he told SBS Urdu.
Mustafa’s mother said leaving her son behind “was a very difficult decision” that the family had to make.
“At the time, nothing was making sense,” she said.
“We were hopeful that within a month or two my son’s visa would be granted and by then we would have obtained our resident return visa and would have been able to bring him with us.”
Following the period of separation, Asad received an email from the Department of Immigration with the news that Mustafa’s visa had been granted.
“I could not believe my eyes that the visa had arrived," Asad said.
"We were planning to go back as we could not bear the separation with Mustafa any longer but this news has given us a lot of relief and happiness.”
Yusra said she’s been “over the moon” since finding out that she’ll be reunited with her son very soon.
“Mustafa’s siblings are very excited. They think now that the visa has arrived, he will be with us in no time.
“We have already started making travel plans to bring Mustafa here.”
‘Some applications may take longer’
The Department of Home Affairs information regarding Subclass 101 Child Visas does not stipulate current processing times.
When asked about the waiting period, a spokesperson from the Australian Border Force told SBS Urdu: “The Department does not comment on individual cases.”
However, the Department of Home Affairs told SBS Punjabi last month: “Visas continue to be processed during the coronavirus pandemic, though some applications may take longer as international shutdowns have made it difficult to source supplementary information like health and character checks.”
Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a cut to a number of flights and people allowed to return to Australia each week.
"We agreed today to a reduction in the number of inbound arrivals into Australia across those ports that are able to accept returning Australian citizens and residents," Mr Morrison said.
It came on the back of rising COVID-19 cases in Victoria and the government wanting to “ensure that resources were being used for testing and tracing”.
Asad and his family are keeping a close eye on those changes to ensure they can find the most convenient solution and follow relevant procedures regarding Mustafa’s return.
“There are strict procedures that need to be followed,” Asad said. “There are not many direct flights that go from Adelaide to Pakistan. We are currently researching all possible options and will follow the health and local government guidance accordingly.”
Listen to the full interview by clicking the player inside the picture at the top of the page.
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