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Sushma Swaraj helps Sydney woman who lost her mother, travel to India ‘immediately’

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Sydney-based Aarti Dewan on Sunday tweeted to Ms Swaraj that she had lost her mother and needed a bridging visa to travel to India.

She tweeted (sic), “@SushmaSwaraj my mother has expired and I need to travel to India immediately, I need Bridging B visa to travel from Australia to perform her last rights. No one is helping me because of the public holiday, and I feel helpless.”

Ms Dewan went to the airport only to be informed that she will not be able to return after leaving Australia as she has a bridging A visa.

“I went to the airport, and they said they would cancel my bridging A visa when I leave from here and will not be able to come back if I need to. So, to travel back, I need bridging B visa which only Australian Immigration can issue,” Ms Dewan tweeted.

Ms Swaraj took note of the tweet and asked High Commissioner of India in Canberra, Mr AM Gondane to help Ms Dewan.
“Gondane ji – I know our High Commission is closed being a Sunday. But issue her the visa so that she may attend the last rites of her mother. @HCICanberra,” Ms Swaraj tweeted.

Indian High Commission tweeted back asking Arti Dewan to get in touch with the mission (Mr Shokeen).

Apparently, Mr Shokeen could not help as the matter pertained to Australian Immigration. 

Ms Dewan tweeted saying “I spoke with Mr Shokeen and he said he is helpless in speaking to any officer of the Australian Immigration to issue me a bridging B visa.”

However, a few hours later High Commission of India informed Ms Swaraj that the matter was resolved and Ms Dewan could travel to India.

“Madam, we have contacted Arti. She can travel to India immediately with her Indian passport now. Assistance would be provided for Australian visa during her return,” HCI tweeted.

However, SBS cannot confirm whether Ms Dewan was able to travel in time or not as she could not be approached.

A Bridging visa A (BVA) is a temporary visa. According to the Department of Home Affairs website, “It allows you to stay in Australia after your current substantive visa ceases and while your substantive visa application is being processed. It can be granted if you lodge an application in Australia for a substantive visa while you still hold a substantive visa. A BVA does not allow you to return to Australia if you leave.”

Hence one needs Bridging visa B. Department of Home Affairs explains on its website that “a bridging visa B (BVB) is a temporary visa. It allows you to leave and return to Australia while your application for a substantive visa is being processed. Provided you return to Australia within the specified travel period, a BVB will then allow you to stay in Australia while your substantive visa application is being processed. You can hold a substantive visa and a BVB at the same time.”

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