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COVID-19: Travelled to get married, still trying to return

Radha Krishna Arepalli, a permanent Australian resident, travelled to India in February to get married. Source: Supplied by Radha Krishna Arepalli

Radha Krishna Arepalli travelled from Australia to India in February to get married. The plan was to get married in March and return with his wife. He is still trying to return.

Highlights:

  • Thousands of Australian citizens and residents have been stuck in India for months.
  • There are occasional flights from India but not enough to bring back all those wanting to return.
  • People like Radha Krishna say they are not able to book tickets.

Radha Krishna Arepalli applied for a fast track visitor visa for his wife, paying extra money.

“I lodged a visitor visa for my wife and also lodged a PR visa for her. I lodged as a fast track application and paid 60,000 Rs (around $12,00) for the fast track visa,” says Mr Arepalli who is still in India trying to return.

“But ever since March 28, when I lodged the application for a visitor visa, I had been waiting. I have received her visa now. Fast track visa we are supposed to get in two days, but it took us almost four months to get that visa.”

Radha Krishna Arepalli
Supplied by Radha Krishna Arepalli

An IT engineer, Radha Krishna Arepalli is one of the thousands of Australians who have been stuck in India since the borders were closed in March this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

A resident of Victoria, Mr Arepalli, could not travel as he did not have a visa for his wife.

He explains, “ A visa was not enough. My wife needs permission to travel. Since I did not have permission, I could not book a ticket for myself and my wife together. That is why I could not travel.”

I came here for my marriage and ever since my marriage on 12th March; I am stuck here. It has been almost five months now.

Furthermore, now that the visa has arrived, booking the tickets is another challenge.

“And now they have implemented the quarantine fees. So if I have to come now with a maximum cap of 50 per flight, the first thing is we are not able to manage a ticket.”

“$3,000 dollars for a ticket and $4,000 dollars for the quarantine fees. It comes around to $10,000 dollars. Moreover, I am paying my rent back in Australia. It is a very tough situation to be in,” says Mr Arepalli who still has a job and works from home for his employer in Victoria.

Radha Krishna Arepalli
Supplied by Radha Krishna Arepalli

“But, I am always anxious as at any moment they might actually call me and ask me to come back.”

The anxiety and uncertainty are keeping him awake at nights.

He says, “You never know when you are going to come back. That is the problem. There is no clarity from the Australian government as well as to how the situation will be solved.”

“Many hurdles to overcome. We do not have a clue about what will be happening. Moreover, the message from the Australian government is that the borders will be closed until January next year or maybe further.”


 

Residents in metropolitan Melbourne are subject to stay-at-home orders and can only leave home for essential work, study, exercise or care responsibilities. People are also advised to wear masks in public.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Residents in Melbourne public housing towers who need access to support and assistance should call the Housing Call Centre on 1800 961 054. If you need a translator, first call 131 450. Both services are 24/7. More information can be found here.

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