Ban on flights: Punjabis, back from Australia, lose hope of return soon

A large number of them have been stuck here for over a year

Deepkamal Kaur

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 11

A large number of Punjabi youth, who came to India on a vacation last year, have been stuck here as Australia has not withdrawn travel restrictions for more than a year. With the Australian government now getting stricter by imposing a ban on all flights from here till mid-May, they have lost all hope.

Some of the Punjabis, who were studying or were on work permit in Australia and had come to India for meeting their families or getting married just ahead of the pandemic, said they had not been able to return abroad for the past few months. Punjabis say that they have been visiting their agents repeatedly for help but the strict provisions in the country are not allowing them to return.

Those who have spent Rs 25 lakh or more in the past three-four years to pay for the college fee there and get work permit say that they are facing hurdles in the way of their career. Some of them even say that their work permits have expired and they now feel that they are only wasting time in retrying for their entry.

Baljinder Singh from Mehatpur town in Jalandhar said, “I had returned home in the first week of March last year. I had gone to Melbourne in 2015 to do a course in automotive mechanics. I had got a work permit as well and began doing a job. Within weeks of my return, the lockdown started and I could not return. The Australian government did not allow people without PR to return and I kept waiting for the right time.

“My father and brother are engaged in agricultural work and I have been helping them since. This February, I got married and am doing IELTS so that I can try my chance to get a Canadian visa.”

Almost similar is the story of Ranjit from Jalandhar, who was on work permit in Brisbane. “I had done BTech in electronics engineering from here and pursued an MBA in Australia. I got a work permit too and my family fixed my marriage here. I returned in February last year and have been stuck here since. I have not been allowed re-entry in Australia and my work permit too has expired. Despite having degrees, I could not get a job here for the past one year as there has been no recruitment happening anywhere. I really do not know what to do,” he seemed clearly upset. 

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