A pair of shoes costs Indian migrant Australian citizenship

A pair of shoes costs Indian migrant Australian citizenship

An Indian national has been refused Australian citizenship for not disclosing his court conviction over a stolen pair of shoes and possessing a credit card that was suspected to be stolen.
An Indian national has been denied Australian citizenship after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) found he deliberately hid information about his court conviction over a pair of shoes more than eight years ago.

35-year-old Mr Patel* did not disclose his court conviction in his March 2010 permanent residency application and subsequently in his citizenship application in July 2016.

While Mr Patel was granted a permanent visa in 2015, the Immigration Department discovered his February 2010 conviction by a Sydney court on charges of Larceny and goods in personal custody suspected being stolen and refused his citizenship application on character grounds.

According to the police record produced in the AAT, Mr Patel – then an international student – took a pair of shoes from a store without paying on 11th January 2010, and was stopped near the gates of the shopping centre while “walking very fast, almost running”.

Police also found a credit card in his possession that they suspected was stolen. While Mr Patel pleaded guilty to both the charges and he paid the fine, he insisted during the AAT hearing that his offending was not premeditated and that the credit card found on him belonged to his friend who had given it to him for safekeeping.

Inadvertent mistakes:

He told the AAT that he was “very sorry and embarrassed” for not disclosing his conviction in his citizenship application, saying since the offence had taken place six years before his filling out the citizenship application, it didn’t readily come to his mind.

He also attributed it to English being his second language and not realising that he wouldn’t get an opportunity to fix any mistakes in the application later.

“My situation was one of not paying sufficient concentrated attention to what I was doing and not attending to the exact wording of everything I had to read,” he told the AAT.

However, the AAT said Mr Patel had disclosed his conviction while registering his business just two months before filling out his citizenship application and discussed this with his business partner.

Explaining the error in his permanent residency application, he told the Tribunal that a migration agent had filled out his visa application and he may have answered ‘no’ to the character question. This was just a month after his court conviction. But he couldn’t produce any evidence of hiring a migration agent to act on his behalf.

The Tribunal heard that he attached a pre-dated police clearance statement which contained no offences, which it said it was “plainly dishonest”.

A deliberate pattern of dishonesty’:

Mr Patel said he has had an “unblemished” life before and after his “inadvertent” offending that he said was “by mistake and totally out of character”.

“I was daydreaming when I was in the shoe store as I was going overseas to India in a couple of days and the thought in my mind was to buy a pair of shoes for my nephew.”

He said he “unwittingly” stepped out of the store with shoes-priced “less than $20” in his hand while making a phone call to his nephew to know his shoe size.

Mr Patel told the Tribunal he was also under pressure to complete his assignments before going to India and that contributed to the confusion in communication with the store employee.

He also told the AAT that the credit card police found on him belonged to his friend who was travelling to India. He said he was not allowed to access his phone to see his friend’s phone number and that he couldn’t give an address for his friend as he had left his previous accommodation and would move to a new place on returning to Australia.

However, the AAT found his explanation was at variance with the police records.

AAT Member C Edwardes said in a written judgment delivered last month that Mr Patel’s non-disclosure of his convictions was a deliberate “pattern of dishonesty”.

“The Tribunal finds that [Mr Patel] changes his storyline often. This is particularly in relation to the circumstances which led to his convictions,” Member Edwardes said adding that his untrue explanations were reflective of “a pattern of dishonest behaviour”.

*Only his last name.

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.

“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.

Gujhar 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.