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Indian woman’s citizenship approval cancelled in Australia due to unlikelihood of future residency

It was noted that Mrs Sharma had spent significant periods outside Australia since receiving her permanent resident visa in 2012.

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In a recent decision, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal upheld the cancellation of an Indian woman’s citizenship approval, ruling it unlikely for her to reside in Australia in the near future. The AAT’s judgment comes after the woman, identified as Mrs Money Sharma, was notified of the intention to consider the cancellation of her citizenship approval due to her extended absence from the country and potential lack of close ties to Australia.

The AAT member said in his decision, “I cannot be satisfied that Mrs Sharma is likely to reside in Australia in the future.”

Mrs Sharma lodged an application for Australian citizenship in March 2018, which was approved by the Department of Home Affairs in October 2019. However, Mrs Sharma departed Australia on January 28, 2020, and has not returned since. In March 2022, the Department notified Mrs Sharma of the intention to cancel her citizenship approval, citing concerns about her residency and close association with Australia.

Mrs Sharma, in her defence, stated that she had travelled to India to attend her sister’s wedding but became stranded due to the COVID-19 pandemic, family responsibilities, and financial issues. She explained that her prolonged stay in India was necessary to fulfil her responsibilities towards her sister’s marriage and the subsequent passing of her father in October 2021.

During the April 14, 2023 hearing, Mrs Sharma, accompanied by her husband, Mr Sanjeev Sharma, presented her case via videoconference from India. She explained that her plans to return to Australia had been delayed due to financial constraints and the need to care for her ailing mother. Mrs Sharma expressed her intent to repay the borrowed funds and return to Australia to resume her professional career as a beauty therapist.

However, tribunal member Dr L Bygrave considered several factors in reaching the decision. It was noted that Mrs Sharma had spent significant periods outside Australia since receiving her permanent resident visa in 2012, including more than three years since her departure in January 2020. Dr Bygrave emphasised that Mrs Sharma’s immediate family members, including her husband, daughter, mother, and siblings, reside in India, while she lacks any immediate or extended family members in Australia.

The judge also considered Mrs Sharma’s limited ties to the Australian community, her lack of property or assets in Australia and India, and her current employment status. Although she previously worked as a beauty therapist in Australia, Mrs Sharma has not provided evidence of her payment of income tax in the country and currently engages in casual work in India.

“However, it is now more than 14 months since Mrs Sharma’s sister married, and I cannot find any evidence that Mrs Sharma has made plans to return to Australia in this period. For example, Mrs Sharma has not looked at or booked flights for her family to return to Australia, considered issues of accommodation or schooling for ‘H’ (her 8-year-old daughter) in Australia, and has not contacted her former employer since June 2022. I also note that Mr Sharma’s Australian passport has expired, and he has yet to renew it,” said Dr Bygrave.

Considering all these factors, the tribunal concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support Mrs Sharma’s likelihood of residing in Australia in the future. Accordingly, the AAT upheld the decision to cancel her citizenship approval, emphasising the importance of maintaining close ties, fulfilling residency requirements, and providing substantial evidence when applying for and retaining Australian citizenship.

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