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Indian migrant’s ten year wait for skilled visa

Avtar Singh Source: Supplied

An Indian migrant has been waiting for the outcome of his provisional skilled visa application since 2009 - a decision that has been delayed due to a protracted legal battle with no end in sight.

An Indian national who won a lengthy legal battle against the Department of Home Affairs after his visa was refused continues to face visa uncertainty despite having lived in Australia for 14 years.

Thirty-eight-year-old Avtar Singh says the uncertainty over his visa has cost him his marriage and that his mental and physical health deteriorated due to the resultant stress.

Mr Singh came to Australia as an international student in 2005 and lodged a provisional skilled visa application in 2009 based on his VET course and voluntary work as a motor mechanic. However, the Immigration Department refused his application in 2012, claiming that the reference letter confirming he undertook voluntary work was “bogus” and was supplied by a former trades teacher, Carmine Amarante, who had pleaded guilty to supplying fake work references to hundreds of visa applicants.

During the hearing of his appeal against the department’s decision, Mr Singh told the Migration Review Tribunal that he never met Mr Amarante and that the work reference was given by his employer for the work experience he had actually done.

The Tribunal, however, refused the appeal in 2015.

“The Immigration Department did not disclose certain information related to the reason why they thought the certificate was bogus and they filed a certificate in the Tribunal to be exempt from disclosing that information to me,” Mr Singh told SBS Punjabi.

The Federal  Circuit Court found that the Tribunal had erred by not giving Mr Singh a chance to comment on the complete information supplied by the Immigration Department with regard to the refusal of his visa and said that Mr Singh’s had been denied procedural fairness. 

Subsequently, the Full Federal Court of Australia also ruled in favour of Mr Singh on the same grounds in 2016.

The Immigration Department then appealed in the High Court of Australia for a special leave petition that was refused in May 2017.  Since then, Mr Singh has been waiting for the AAT  to decide his case.

“I wrote to the Tribunal to ask how long I would have to wait, but they haven’t given any specific timeframe,” Mr Singh said. “It has been ten years since I’m waiting for the outcome of my visa application. I say, give me a result, no matter what it is.”

The Melbourne taxi driver holds his visa situation responsible for the breakdown of his marriage and says he is socially isolated.

“Soon after I applied for my visa, I got married and my wife came here. But after my visa was refused, I had to go on a bridging visa and my wife’s parents thought I was misleading them. She went back to India and then the chasm between us kept growing,” Mr Singh told SBS Punjabi.

“All my friends here who studied with me are settled, they have their families, they have kids. I just don’t fit in. I don’t even call my parents because they keep asking when I would settle down, I have no answer for them,” he says.

“The last 14 years of my life seem a total waste. I don’t know how many more will pass before I know my fate.” 

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