Bhutanese in Australia say they will not abandon Bhutan

Obtaining permanent residence does not mean Bhutanese are becoming Australian citizens, they say

The roughly 20,000 Bhutanese living in Australia have of late been “mentally affected,” by the series of stories on both the mainstream and social media, which they say indicates as if Bhutanese have abandoned their country and are even ready to give up Bhutanese citizenship to live in Australia.
Lhaki Dema from L&B Global Education and Visa Services, Perth, Western Australia said that Bhutanese applying for a permanent resident is not in any way related to abandoning the “motherland,” she said, adding that media reports are affecting them.
A local media had reported that over 20,522 Australian visas were granted and more than a thousand Bhutanese availed of permanent resident visas in the last ten years. “There are advantages that come along with getting the status of a permanent resident,” Lhaki said.
She said obtaining permanent residence does not mean Bhutanese are becoming Australian citizens. She cited an example saying Bhutanese without permanent residents normally have to spend about 42,000-45,000 AUS dollars for education whereas those with permanent residents spent only about 5,000-6,000 AUS dollars. Thus, “money can be saved and remitted to Bhutan,” she added.
Another Bhutanese in Australia said that the Bhutanese are hardworking and most of them came looking for better opportunities. “Eventually all Bhutanese would go back home and no one would reside permanently in Australia,” she said.
She also added that Bhutanese in any foreign country never compromise their identity for better lives, adding that money earned to invest in Bhutan and skills gained will benefit the country only.
Another Bhutanese living in Perth said after obtaining permanent residence, people can send more money home to support families or buy property. The other benefits are Medicare (health) and Bhutanese can apply for better jobs in their professional field. Therefore, she said, “Bhutanese availing permanent resident is only going to help our country indirectly.”
Permanent residents and citizenship are different. Public or officials should not misconstrue the concept which may bring negative repercussions leading to loss of opportunity. “I believe Bhutanese will return home eventually,” she said.
Sonam Pelden working in Perth said that though the decisions will depend on each individual that from the circle of talks going on, “we want to return home and we will return.”
Chimi, from Canberra, said he is just waiting for the completion of his house that is being constructed in Thimphu. “You know very well how difficult it is to build a house in Thimphu. We cannot avail of a loan without collaterals. But by coming to Australia and working, I am now constructing a house, which my family will need in the future,” he said, adding he would soon return to Bhutan.
Others understand the potential long-term effects. “But these effects are from the eyes of those living in Bhutan. I do not believe that Bhutanese here would forfeit their citizenship. There may be some, but most will not,” another Bhutanese from Canberra said.
He further added that the Bhutanese community is in fact thinking of how they can optimally invest in Bhutan. “We are considering foreign direct investments (FDIs) with firms in Singapore and other countries,” he added.
In most countries, foreigners can become residents by applying for a permanent residence permit. In Australia, however, residency is granted when the foreigner applies for a permanent visa. This document offers the right to migrate to Australia on an indefinite basis and it can open the way to citizenship.
The basic legal options through which a foreign person can be granted residency in Australia are prescribed by the Department of Home Affairs. One can become a permanent resident in Australia when applying for a permanent visa that can be issued for family-related purposes, business purposes or investment-related matters, or for work reasons.
Applicants who hold a permanent resident visa can stay in Australia permanently, work and study, enroll in Medicare, travel to and from Australia for five years, and sponsor relatives.

Sangay Rabten from Thimphu