‘Who gets to stay in Australia?’

By Our Reporter
Sumit and Satinder

Satinder’s life has been on hold for almost five years.

In 2007, she met Indian national Sumit, who was studying in Australia. They married in 2015 with plans to settle here and start a family but after Sumit overstayed his visa, he returned to India.

In applying for permanent residency, Sumit is required to wait in his own country. In the past, spousal visa applications were usually processed within three to six months but now, the wait time may be closer to two years.

“I think a lot of people take for granted how easy it is to go through the immigration process but it’s incredibly complicated,” Satinder says. “I thought that if I shared my story, it might help other people and motivate them to find the right support they may need.

Satinder tells her story in SBS’s new documentary series Who Gets To Stay In Australia? airing tomorrow (July 1).

“I was in a really tough place, and was overwhelmed by the process. I was looking for help anywhere I could get it. When I was contacted, I thought it was the right opportunity to tell my story, and I thought there might be others in similar situations to myself and Sumit.

“Emotional help, professional help—I didn’t realise what was available. Working with a good lawyer has been invaluable, so I really recommend people arm themselves with a strong team who will lead you on the right path,” she says.

Satinder and lawyer chat

Every three minutes someone gains permanent residency in Australia but every year more than 40,000 are rejected. For the first time, a documentary series captures the life changing moments when men, women and families are told whether they can call Australia home, or whether they will be asked to leave.

Who Gets to Stay in Australia? follows the lives of 13 migrants and their families who want to settle in Australia. They’ve come here for love, family, work or for safety. The road to permanent residency is long, complex and challenging. This series follows people whose applications have previously been rejected and are in their final appeal to stay in the country.

In an Australian television first, SBS cameras were granted privileged access inside the administrative Appeals Tribunal, where applicants and their lawyers make their case directly to a tribunal member. The series captures the key moments as applicants prepare their cases, subject themselves to the scrutiny of the system and ultimately receive the news that will change their lives forever. For some of the applicants, these are life or death decisions.

SBS Director of TV and Online Content, Marshall Heald, says, “Away from the noisy headlines and politics lie the deeply moving stories of people who want to call Australia home and make a life in this country. Who Gets To Stay in Australia? puts a human face to the Australian immigration process. The stories are raw, heartbreaking, triumphant and full of hope, in equal measure. We hope it will encourage a deeper understanding of the thousands of people who go through this journey.”

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