A 10-year-old Indian boy has been refused an Australian visitor visa for the third time as the Department of Home Affairs feels he does not have "employment or financial incentives" to return back home.
A visitor visa for Harmanpreet Singh was applied so that the boy can meet his father and stepmother in Melbourne during his school summer vacation, the Australian media reported on Tuesday.
"It has been three years since I have seen my son. We applied for his visa thrice and they (Australian authorities) have refused the application with the same reason," his father Harinder Singh told SBS Punjabi.
Harinder Singh's wife died in a road accident in India in 2012. He later married and moved to Australia in 2015. His son also came to Australia with him but returned to India the same year to continue his studies.
Harinder Singh and his wife currently have a restriction on travelling overseas.
Harmanpreet Singh, who currently lives with his grandmother in India, first applied for a visitor visa in 2017. But the visa was refused as the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection wasn't convinced that he intended to stay temporarily in Australia.
He again applied for a visitor visa on May 3; that too was refused.
Following this, the boy's father wrote to Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. He was advised to supply "as much information as possible" to demonstrate an incentive for his son to return to India with his next application.
"I added the documents of my property in India, a letter from my son's school and my mother's guardianship certificate of him issued by a court in India. But all that was not enough and the visa officer again cited a lack of employment and financial incentives," said Harinder Singh.
His latest application for a fast track visa was refused on May 28. "We didn't know that government and the system could be so harsh that they would split a family like that," he said.
Harinder Singh, who works as a welder in Melbourne, said the prolonged separation from his son has caused "a lot of stress" in the family.
"If it's because of our visa status, do people not have the right to even to see their children? Our elder son has been here at least 6 to 7 times and he returned to India each time."
He has now started an online petition to get the Australian Home Affairs Minister to review the decision.