Sumeet Kaur is facing a devastating choice.
The Aussie citizen desperately needs to return to her job at a high school in Kalgoorlie, and be with her husband, Sijander Singh, 38, after six months away.
But due to Australia’s tough rules, that would mean leaving her father behind, alone.
Because while, once the India travel ban is lifted and flights restart, Aussies can bring spouses, partners and dependant children into the country, parents are not classed as immediate family.
Even if they are vaccinated and take part in $3000, 14-day hotel quarantine, it’s extremely tough to get a special exemption to allow them to travel here.
Mrs Singh said she doesn’t know if her father will survive if she returns to her life in Australia without him.
“I know I’m not going to see him again if I leave him here,” she said.
“I feel so torn… let my father die in India or let my husband and myself suffer.
“I cannot leave him to die alone.”
Mrs Singh rushed to help her father, widower Gurcharn, in November when he ended up in intensive care and had nobody to look after him.
He had a stroke, problems with his liver and also suffered from anxiety and depression.
She was allowed to leave for compassionate reasons, with Australia’s travel ban still ongoing but that being one of the reasons people can apply to leave.
He is now out of hospital and doing well, with her to care for him.
He was due to come to Australia for an extended visit in March 2020, just before the borders closed.
And despite applying to the government for him to be allowed to come back with her four times – he already has a visa – the request has been denied.
And that was before Australia imposed fresh restrictions on India, listing it as a ‘high risk’ nation, stopping flights, and making it harder for Indian-born Aussies to go home for compassionate reasons because of the “pressure” on hotel quarantine when they return.
Mrs Kaur one of Australia’s millions of migrants rallying for change.
A third of Aussies were born abroad – a total of 7.5m – and they don’t know when they will be allowed to see their families such as parents again.
Australian authorities have always said international borders would open when everybody was vaccinated, but that now looks uncertain according to recent comments from the Health Minister Greg Hunt – and only 2m of the 25m population has yet had the jab anyway.
Mrs Singh called Australia’s rules ‘inhuman’ and said officials should consider allowing parents to be added to the list of people who can come in.
“I do not understand how you can even think about parents not being a part of your family,” she said.
“I’m sorry to say when it comes to migrants I don’t feel we are in it together.”
Expats are also frustrated to see foreign celebrities continuing to be allowed into the country – and even their parents too.
American actress Natalie Portman’s parents have also been allowed to come to Sydney, according to reports, to join her while she’s here making a film.
That’s despite about 34,000 Aussies being trapped abroad, with people facing a tough battle to get one of the few seats on a plane in due to the strict flight caps which allow only a few thousand a week to land in the nation.
Meanwhile, Mrs Kaur, who said the coronavirus crisis in Punjab where she is is not as bad as in the biggest cities, said her and her family’s mental health is suffering.
“This is killing more than the virus,” she said.
Home Affairs told 9News.com.au there are no current plans to change the system for parents.
“The Government acknowledges the difficulties with respect to extended families seeking to reunite, however, there are currently no plans to include parents in the definition of immediate family for the purpose of travel exemptions,” a spokesperson said.
In relation to Portman, Australian Border Force said it didn’t comment on individual cases, but said; “Travel exemptions may also be granted to persons delivering services in sectors critical to Australia’s economic recovery.”