Parminder Singh with his wife Chanchal Saini and son Gursimran Singh Saini. Credit: Supplied
All doors seem to have closed on Mr Singh and his family, who have built a life and home on the Gold Coast.
Faced with the prospect of deportation to India, the family has lodged a petition seeking public support for their campaign to be allowed to stay in the country permanently.
The petition has garnered over 12,000 signatures and myriads of empathetic comments, but that hasn’t impacted their visa status.
Parminder Singh came to Australia on a student visa in 2008. Credit: Supplied
Speaking to SBS Punjabi, the 37-year-old says returning was never an option.
“I have studied, lived and worked here. I have an eight-year-old son who was born here and has never visited India. If deported, we would have no pathway to return, which might impact my family’s future, especially my son’s health and education,” he tells SBS Punjabi.
Parimder Singh has been living in Australia for the past 15 years.
Parminder’s visa history
Mr Singh came to Australia on a student visa in 2008. He pursued a bachelor’s degree in social welfare but went on to work as a manager at a local restaurant.
In 2016, he applied for the regional sponsored visa (Subclass 187) that allows skilled workers nominated by their employer in regional Australia to live and work there permanently.
But as luck would have it, his visa application was rejected. Following this, Mr Singh applied for a ministerial intervention which too was unsuccessful.
“Since I was left with no option, I decided to switch fields and return to social welfare. I was fortunate to get a job as a youth worker during (the) COVID (pandemic). But when I applied for a skills assessment, I was told I would need a further two years of experience in the field,” he said.
“I was granted a bridging visa E in the meantime that allows me to stay here legally until I make arrangements to leave. I have been told there’s no hope for any further substantive visa, and I would have to exit the country by 31 May.”
Mr Singh and his family are currently on Bridging Visa E, allowing them to stay in Australia lgeally while they make arrangements to leave. Credit: Supplied
During this time, Mr Singh says he applied for a second ministerial intervention, this time based on his new job. However, he says he is still waiting to hear back on the matter.
“I still have a few months before I can complete my two years’ work experience as a youth worker position, on the basis of which I can reapply for skills assessment and then another application for permanent residency. But if they deport me before then, I will have no pathway to return to Australia,” he adds.
Mr Singh’s predicament resonates with thousands of skilled migrants who have spent years in Australia but are unsure if they would be allowed to live here permanently.
A five-year review of Australia’s economic policies
A five-year review of Australia’s economic policies recommends longer temporary visa stays but advocates tougher pathways for permanent residency. Source: AAP
The review backed longer temporary visa durations but with tougher pathways to permanent residency.
The commission also advised changes that would allow employer-sponsored workers to switch employers more easily.
“While temporary skilled migration visas should not come with an expectation of permanent migration, pathways to permanent migration should be available under revised employer-sponsored and independent skilled visas,” the review states.
What’s the government’s stand on the issue?
The Albanese Government maintains its in favour of giving migrants the security that comes with a pathway to permanent residency.
Immigration Minister, Andrew Giles. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)
Addressing the Law Council of Australia, Immigration Minister, Andrew Giles, said a pathway to permanency was paramount if the country wanted to continue to attract the world’s best and brightest talent.
A migration system that leaves people in limbo undermines the integrity that our migration system should be built upon.
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles
“A migration system that facilitates this human uncertainty reduces Australia’s attractiveness on the world stage and harms our national interest,” he said.
Mr Giles added that the government was committed to restoring a migration system founded on integrity and certainty.
As of the end of February, the government has finalised more than 5.4 million temporary and migration visas.