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The Immigration Department has refused the citizenship application of an Indian national after he waited for four and a half years for its outcome.
Sagar Shah applied for Australian citizenship in December 2012. The department refused his application in June 2017 on the grounds that he did not intend to stay in Australia or maintain a close or continuing association with Australia, despite the fact that his wife and both children are Australian citizens.
Last week, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal upheld the Department’s 2017 decision to refuse Mr Shah’s citizenship application due to his prolonged absence from Australia after he submitted his application.
In the twelve years since he first arrived in Australia in 2006, Mr Shah travelled overseas nine times and has spent approximately five years outside Australia.
The most significant period spent overseas was three and a half years from March 2014 to October 2017 in which he spent in India after applying for citizenship, which weighed strongly against his application.
Mr Shah said that he had to take care of his ailing father who had become paralysed due to a stroke as well as their family business in India while his father was sick.
But the Tribunal did not find his reason reliable.
“It is, to my mind, not credible for the Applicant to suggest it took something like four years to diagnose and stabilize the father’s condition,” said Senior Member of the AAT, Theodore Tavoularis.
Mr Shah has a number businesses in Australia and India and the Tribunal said a that more likely explanation of his absence was to "pursue his own business interest”, besides involvement in his family’s business for which Mr Shah claimed he was required to travel to India.
Mr Tavoularis said Mr Shah’s wife and children’s Australian citizenship was not sufficient to establish his close and continuing association with Australia.
The Tribunal noted that Mr Shah did not produce evidence of “significant ties with extended family in Australia” even though his brother-in-law and his family live in Coomera in Queensland.
“Such evidence could have existed if [Mr Shah] and his family had settled in the Coomera area to be near the family of his brother in law and sister in law. Such evidence was effectively dispelled as a result of [him] causing his family to leave the Coomera area and to re-settle in Sydney,” said Mr Tavoularis, adding that he had not provided any evidence of reducing his involvement in his family’s businesses in India.
The DIBP told the Tribunal that for this reason, Mr Shah will continue to remain absent from Australia.
Mr Tavoularis said Mr Shah’s evidence was “self-serving in nature” for having travelled to India in January 2018 despite telling the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in April last year that he would not travel outside Australia after October 2017.
“The overall impression given by the evidence before the Tribunal is that the Applicant is itinerant and will move himself and his family wherever is convenient for him and his business interests at a given time,” he said, adding this caused “grave doubts” that Mr Shah would maintain a close and continuing association with Australia.