September 23, 2022

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A small, regional town in South Australia is throwing its support behind a couple who are set to be deported next month after living in the country for 18 years.

Navi Kaur is an aged care worker and her husband Vik Singh is looking to work in aviation.

The couple have a long history in Goolwa, a town of roughly 9000 residents on the mouth of the Murray River. Together, they ran the local Indian restaurant for almost five years.

Navi Kaur and Vik Singh have lived in Australia for 18 years. During that time they operated an Indian restaurant in Goolwa, South Australia, before Kaur moved in to aged care.
Navi Kaur and Vik Singh have lived in Australia for 18 years. During that time they operated an Indian restaurant in Goolwa, South Australia, before Kaur moved in to aged care. (Supplied: Navi Kaur)

When uncertainty over their visa situation forced them to close their restaurant last year, Kaur got her qualifications in aged care, while on a bridging visa, and worked through the second half of the pandemic for Estia Health.

However, the couple have been given until September 30 to leave the country, or be deported, after their third application for a ministerial intervention was rejected last month.

So far, more than 35,000 people have signed the couple’s petition imploring Immigration Minister Andrew Giles to allow them to stay in Australia.

“Australia is home for us. This is the place where we want to be, where we feel like we are destined to be,” Kaur said.

“I left India when I was 18 years old, so long ago that I can’t even remember it. I can’t connect with India anymore.”

Navi Kaur and Vik Singh are facing deportation on September 30 after their latest application for a ministerial intervention was rejected.
Navi Kaur and Vik Singh are facing deportation on September 30 after their latest application for a ministerial intervention was rejected. (Supplied: Navi Kaur)

Kaur and her husband, who met and married in Australia, have been living on bridging visas for the past eight years.

The couple’s visa woes began in 2014, Kaur said, when a man posing as an immigration lawyer lodged an incomplete application for a permanent skilled visa on their behalf.

“He took $30,000 of our money and ran off. When I went to his office to find out what was happening it was empty,” Kaur said.

The couple then went to an immigration agent, who lodged another application for a different type of skilled visa but failed to file all the required paperwork, leading to its refusal, Kaur said.

Migration Solutions CEO Mark Glazbrook is now acting on behalf of the couple. Like many vulnerable migrants, Kaur and her husband were taken advantage of, Glazbrook said.

“Prior to us working with the family they got some poor immigration advice and they also had a number of situations where they were exploited,” he said.

Navi Kaur has been working in aged care since last year, often putting in 50-hour weeks due to staff shortages in the pandemic.
Navi Kaur has been working in aged care since last year, often putting in 50-hour weeks due to staff shortages in the pandemic. (Supplied: Navi Kaur)

In order to get a permanent Australian visa, Kaur and her husband would have to leave the country, unless Immigration Minister Andrew Giles chose to intervene, Glazbrook said.

There was a strong case for the minister to allow the couple to stay, he added.

“Navi is an aged care worker in a regional part of South Australia, where traditionally it’s very, very difficult to find aged care workers,” Glazbrook said.

“It’s an area that was deemed during COVID to be a critical care sector by the Department of Home Affairs.

“So, in that situation, you would think that there is some merit in allowing her to remain in Australia working for her employer.”

Glazbrook said Navi and her husband’s case was just as worthy of intervention as other recent cases which had caught the minister’s interest.

Earlier this month, Scottish solar electrician Mark Green and his family were given a last-minute reprieve from deportation after their case drew widespread media attention and South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas put their case to Giles.

Glazbrook is now preparing another last-ditch application for Kaur and her husband to have their case considered for a ministerial intervention, based on her aged care work, their community support and other recent immigration decisions.

Local mayor, Keith Parkes, as well as Federal MP for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie, have both written letters in support of the couple to Giles.

Parkes said he was happy to back the couple who were “very well liked in the community”.

“It’s a shame, they’ve come here, started up a good business with a good following and the community took them on board, they fit into the community nicely.

“The government is talking about opening up more immigration for skilled people. Why send these people back? They’re already here doing it.”

9news.com.au has contacted Malinauskas and Giles for comment.

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