Family visa applications processing taking up to 50 years

Limited places and a very high demand for some family visas have ballooned the waiting periods up to half a century.

Indian migrant Puneet Mittal has always wanted his parents to live with his family in Australia. This year he applied for a permanent visa under the Non-Contributory Parent visa for his parents. But it won’t be before 2048 that a decision on their visa applications is made.

Mr Mittal’s father is in his late sixties and mother is in early sixties. They have been given bridging visas and can stay in Australia, but can’t access Medicare benefit until their applications are decided.

Mr Mittal says the three-decade waiting period is “comical”.

“By the time my parents’ applications are processed, they will not be in good health as they are now and may not be considered medically fit for the visa grant,” he tells SBS Punjabi.

“I am pretty sure, they are not going to get a permanent residency. I just applied for the visa so that they are saved the hassle of reapplying for the visa repeatedly.”

The Department of Home Affairs has recently published the current processing timeframe for some family visas. While applications for parent visas are likely to take approximately 30 years, the timeframe for processing Aged Dependent Relative and Remaining Relative visa applications is “up to 50 years”, according to the Department’s website.

These applications are assessed in order of lodgement and are placed in a queue accordingly.

Once the cap for a particular year has been met, the remaining assessed applications are queued for processing in the subsequent year.

According to the information released by the Department of Home Affairs on migration planning levels, it will grant a maximum of 1500 parent visas, 7,175 contributory parent visas and 500 other family visas including Remaining Relative and Aged Dependent Relative visas. The cap of 500 on other family visas is down from last year’s 900.

ujhar Bajwa of Bajwa Migration in Melbourne says some family visas, especially parents visas are in high demand.
“Because the annual migration planning allows only a small number of visas under the parent category while the demand is increasing, a huge queue has now built up which will take decades to clear.”

He says while parent visas are popular because applicants can stay with their children in Australia while on a bridging visa, other family visas, such as the Remaining Relative visa, are not very popular among his clients.

“In all the years that I have been in this profession, I haven’t seen any of my clients getting this visa. The last one I know of was in 2003,” Mr Bajwa told SBS Punjabi.



H-1B visa to green card: Wait time for Indian workers is up to 151 years

Many of the Indian tech employees in the United States who don’t leave the country after their H-1B visas expire get sponsored by companies offering permanent jobs — setting workers on the path to a green card granting permanent residence.

It turns out that the path can be very, very long.

o continue working after an H-1B runs out, foreign citizens may obtain an EB-1 visa for people with “extraordinary” ability, an EB-2 for people with advanced degrees or an EB-3 for bachelor’s degree holders.

As of mid-April, more than 300,000 Indian immigrants were on EB visas and waiting for green cards, according to a new report from the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. Add in spouses and minor children, and the total number on hold exceeds 600,000 people.

The approximately 217,000 Indians on the EB-2 visa for holders of advanced degrees have little reason to hope they’ll ever get a green card, according to Cato’s research, based on federal government data.

“At current rates of visa issuances, they will have to wait 151 years for a green card,” Cato reported Friday.

“Obviously, unless the law changes, they will have died or left by that point.”

Because each visa category is allotted a minimum of 40,040 green cards, and the share is not adjusted according to demand, and because immigrants from any one country can’t receive more than 7 percent of green cards issued each year, the wait times vary, according to Cato.

“The shortest wait is for the highest-skilled category for EB-1 immigrants with ‘extraordinary ability,’ the think tank reported.

“The extraordinary immigrants from India will have to wait ‘only’ six years. EB-3 immigrants — those with bachelor’s degrees — will have to wait about 17 years.”

The 1965 legislation that allowed immigrants from any nation to receive up to 7 percent of the green cards issued each year means that Estonians, for example, have a much easier time getting permanent residence than Indians, according to Cato.

Government considers mandatory English test for all new residents: Report

Foreigners hoping to settle in Australia on permanent residency visas could soon be sharpening their pencils and cleaning their erasers as the government gears up to introduce mandatory English tests for those wanting to live Down Under.

The Australian reports that Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Minister Alan Tudge is considering sweeping changes to the system that would require those wanting to stay in Australia on a permanent resident visa to pass an English test.

At present only those applying for citizenship must pass such a test.

A permanent resident visa is given to those who want to stay in Australia without becoming a citizen. They can live, work and study without restriction in Australia, but cannot vote and must ensure they have the correct visa if they want to travel outside the country and reenter.

It’s estimated that close to one million people living in Australia cannot speak English and, according to The Australian, Tudge will argue in a speech delivered on Thursday, that mandatory testing for all new residents will help eliminate the problem.

“This is particularly so given the concentration of non-English speakers in particular pockets, largely in Melbourne and Sydney,” his speech reportedly says.

“There are suburbs where up to one in three cannot speak the national language well or at all. Further, because of the concentration in particular areas, there is less demand on the individuals to have to interact with other ­Australians.”

The government faced criticism last year over claims its citizenship test was so hard not even born-and-raised Aussies could pass it. It has since proposed changes to citizenship laws and suggested a broader conversational language skills test be required instead.

Earlier this year, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said it was a “no brainer” for all migrants to be proficient in English.

If you’re in Australia we don’t ask you to abandon your culture or your heritage but if you’re in Australia you abide by our laws. There is one law that applies equally to every Australian, regardless of your background or place of birth, and people need to understand that… The majority of people do,” he told 2GB radio.

The minister added: “If people want to become Australian citizens… we need to have demonstrated that people integrated into our community, that they are working. There are lots of reasons that this is a good law, and we’ll continue to push through.”

Australian citizenship approvals have been dramatically reduced.

The processing of citizenship applications has been painfully slow this year with the Department of Home Affairs approving 54,419 applications during the first eight months of 2017-18, compared to 139,285 last year, according to information released to the Federal Parliament on Monday.

During this financial year, a total of 141,236 citizenship applications were received as of February 28, the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs revealed.

The Department of Home Affairs last month told the Federal Parliament that over 200,000 people were awaiting the outcome of their citizenship applicants as of April 30 this year with the average waiting period for processing applications ballooning up to 16 months.

The relatively low number of citizenship grants is attributed to the period of April- October 2017 when the Department held on to new applications after announcing the citizenship reforms that sought to increase the general residence requirement and introduce a standalone English language test. The Government is planning to bring back a reworked version of the Bill after its proposed law was defeated in the Senate.

Home Affairs officer Luke Mansfield told a Senate Estimates hearing last month that an increased number of applications coupled with tightened national security requirements had led to an increase in the processing time of citizenship applications.

Citizenship applicants facing uncertainty.

Atul Vidhata who runs an online forum – Fair Go for Australian Citizenship, says many migrants have been waiting much longer than sixteen months.

“When these people contact the department, they are told it’s not a service standard to process the applications within this timeframe,” he tells SBS Punjabi.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty due to a lack of clear communication. In our experience, some applications that were made in 2018 are being processed faster whereas applications made in 2017 are still held up.”

MP Julian Hill had questioned the Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge about the criteria applied for applications requiring ‘thorough analysis’ or ‘further assessment’.

“All applications for Australian citizenship are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the legislative criteria,” Mr Tudge responded.

India overtakes the UK as top source of Australian citizenship.

Since 2012-13, over 118,000 people born in India have pledged their allegiance to Australia by becoming Australian citizens. Indian migrants also top the list of country-wise visa recipients in Australia’s annual immigration program.

As of February 28 this year, 10,168 Indian-born migrants were granted Australian citizenship with 25,408 Indian-born people applying during the same time. The 2016-17 figure stood at 22,006 citizenship grants to Indian migrants with 29,955 Indians applying for it.

Dutton slams AAT decisions after staff enjoy $600k ‘tax-funded’ trip

Peter Dutton has warned the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to urgently change its ways and focus on deporting foreign criminals, after hundreds of staff from the government body enjoyed a $600,000 conference on the Sunshine Coast.

Staff from the tribunal spent three days at the 361-room Novotel Twin Waters Resort – which Channel 9 claims was funded by taxpayers – but many of them didn’t get the warm welcome they may have expected.

A Current Affair caught footage of the family of a murdered Melbourne woman protesting outside. According to the show, she was tragically stabbed to death in 2013 by a Turkish man, who the Department of Home Affairs has twice attempted to ban from entering Australia. However, those decisions were reportedly overthrown both times by the AAT.

It’s just another in a long line of controversial U-turns by the tribunal that has sparked outrage in recent years, as decisions to deport criminals have been overturned allowing them to stay in the country.

Now, Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton has responded to the AAT’s luxury trip away, and said he hopes part of their agenda was to change their ways and focus more on protecting national security.

Speaking on 2GB radio, he said: “I hope that part of their deliberation up at the resort was to look at ways they can start to reflect community standards more regularly than what we see at the moment.

“I think people want to see community standards reflected, people want criminals kicked out of our country. We’re not going to take a backwards step on this move, we want to make sure these visa cancellations are made. It’s in the national interest that they provide for a safer society. We want that backed up by the courts and we don’t apologise for that.”

Read more: ‘Blood on its hands’: Murdered woman’s family blasts immigration tribunal

The AAT provides independent reviews on decisions made by government departments. Its panellists are not publicly named, although its most senior executives are, and most of its decisions are not made publicly available. While they have the power to overturn an initial decision by the Department of Home Affairs, Dutton’s team can then overturn that decision again in certain, more extreme, circumstances.

Dutton confirmed some of the previous members of the tribunal are no longer working there, and added: “We’re looking at ways in which we can reform the process, because at the moment we are spending millions of dollars, we’re seeing criminals who should be deported staying here and it’s undermining the work we’re doing in cancelling the visas and I’m not going to tolerate that.

“I want to make sure that we have people in our country and welcome them warmly, but if people commit crimes against Australians they need to understand that the default position is that they will go.”

The minister said it comes down to the make-up of the tribunal and who’s working there – and even said it goes further than the AAT, and some judges working in magistrate’s and criminal courts can make the wrong decisions too.

It comes after Dutton finally hit out at the AAT in a scathing attack just days ago, and took the rare opportunity to slam the tribunal as a whole – confirming he’s calling for some of its members to be replaced.

‘I want them out’: Dutton slams AAT over more shock deportation U-turns

“We have a problem with the AAT and there’s no sense pretending otherwise,” he told radio host Ray Hadley. “The AAT does not reflect, in many of these cases, the view of the Australian people. In my judgement, it’s unacceptable to be appointing people who clearly don’t have the confidence of the government, and clearly don’t have the confidence of the Australian people.”

The Herald Sun previously revealed that there were 164 cases in which criminals were saved from having their visas cancelled, or simply not granted, over the past eight years. Of those, eight were convicted murderers, 17 were rapists, 33 were drug dealers and 23 were found guilty of armed robbery.

In a statement released on April 27, the AAT noted that “recent media coverage included claims questioning the transparency and accountability of the AAT’s operations”. The tribunal noted that decisions on whether to approve or set aside decisions by one of the Department of Home Affair’s delegates made up only a small part of its workload.