Gagandeep Singh aka Gavy who lives in Gippsland, Victoria, with his Australian wife and son is moments away from being forced to leave for India. According to A Current Affairs Gavy has lived in Australia for fourteen years and is waiting for a ministerial intervention to extend his stay.
Gagandeep came to Australia on a student visa from India in 2009 and in 2012 he met Phoebe. Both were married and now have a four-year-old son, Jarro.
The couple told ACA that Phoebe has fibromyalgia, deemed a chronic illness, which makes her husband the breadwinner for the family.
If Gagandeep is forced to leave Australia, Phoebe believes she will have to live on government welfare. She told ACA: “Some days I can be good, some days I can be bad. I’d be going and getting government help, which I don’t really like doing … I’ve got no choice really … we’re basically living in limbo.”
Gagandeep who runs a truck business will have to abandon his truck business and leave behind his family. He is worried that his wife won’t be able to pay even the rent and his young son, Jarro, will be left without a father.
Phoebe told Gippsland Times that “Gagandeep has always been legal in this country, he’s never broken the immigration laws at all.”
Gagandeep’s lawyer, Joseph Italiano, told ACA that the outgoing minister could have solved this issue by granting a valid visa. He said, “This family is owed an explanation … to me it’s inexplicable. There are no character concerns for this man, there are no health issues that would cost the public purse. It seems inhumane, it seems lacking compassion. Three years later, the minister decided it was not consistent with his guidelines. In my opinion, it flies in the face of his guidelines because there’s a child involved.”
The local community had started a petition campaign that has gathered 1600 signatures. However, an overwhelming amount of local community support for the Singh family hasn’t been enough for the outgoing immigration minister Alex Hawke to intervene and give Gagandeep a partner visa to stay in Australia.
The family now hopes that the new immigration minister in the federal Labor government will be able to do help them. Gagandeep’s lawyer with the support of federal MP Darren Chester has once again put in an application to reconsider the case.
MP Chester in fact even wrote a letter of support to the outgoing government. He told ACA, “They’ve been employing people and keeping themselves employed at a time when we need people who want to make that contribution to our region. We’ve got a skill shortage in our region.”
Gagandeep believes that if he is allowed to stay, eventually he can re-establish his truck business, buy a house, and have another child. He said, “Don’t make us apart. We would like to stay together, as a family.”
Gagandeep had applied to extend his visa but till now the immigration department has refused a tourist visa, a protection visa, and a partner visa.
On May 11, 2022, Gagandeep was put a bridging visa that limits his work rights and entitlements. He cannot leave Australia and has to report to Immigration every month. Further, he has been told by immigration that he should apply for a new visa from India, a process that Gagandeep and Phoebe feel could take up to three years.
Statement by a departmental spokesperson to ACA:
- The Department does not comment on individual cases.
- Portfolio Ministers have personal intervention powers under the Migration Act 1958 that allow a Minister to grant a visa to a person if the Minister thinks it is in the public interest to do so.
- Ministers only intervene in a relatively small number of cases that present unique and exceptional circumstances, and where the Minister considers that it is in the public interest to do so. What is or is not in the public interest is entirely a matter of the Minister considering each case on its own merits. The decision to intervene is made by the Minister based on the individual circumstances of each case.
- After a first request is received any subsequent request is a repeat request for the purposes of assessment against the Minister’s guidelines.
- The guidelines set out that the Minister does not wish to consider repeat requests unless the Department assesses they raise new, substantive issues that were not provided before or considered in a previous request and which present unique or exceptional circumstances as described in the guidelines.