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Friday, November 7, 2014

Indian surrogacy: India says Australia must resolve impasse around expecting couples' visa rejections

The Indian government says the ball is in Australia's court when it comes to resolving an impasse that has seen Australian couples refused visas to visit the Asian nation to engage in surrogacy.

Surrogacy advocates say a number of Australian couples have had their visa applications rejected in recent weeks.

The move follows recent revelations that in 2012 an Australian couple who had twins to a surrogate mother in India left one baby behind because they said they could not afford to take both.

Indian authorities require Australian couples to provide a letter from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that stipulates that any child born to an Indian surrogate mother will be permitted entry into Australia.

In a statement to surrogate advocates, Indian officials said there was "no clarity or categorical mention in the generic letter issued by the Australian High Commission in India that children born out of surrogacy will be given Australian nationality".

The generic letter, provided by the Australian High Commission in New Delhi for the couples whose visa applications have been rejected, states that a child will be granted citizenship by descent or a permanent visa if they meet the eligibility requirements set out under Australian law.

The letter outlines that state and territory governments regulate the legal transfer of parentage following a surrogate birth, and that in NSW, the ACT and Queensland it is an offence to enter into overseas commercial surrogacy arrangements.

India's external affairs ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said surrogacy visas would only be issued when all of India's requirements were met.

"If there are any applicants in Australia who are unable to fulfil the requirements of our visa regime for surrogacy purposes, obviously they will not be able to be granted a visa," he said.

"I understand that in Australia this is one such issue. The ball therefore lies in the court of the country from which those nationals hail," he said.

Mr Akbaruddin noted Indian authorities were currently considering legislation to regulate the surrogacy industry and until that is resolved, "the law of the land will prevail".

DFAT has said in a statement that it has updated its travel advice for India to stress that: "Australians should be aware that India will rigorously assess visa applications to ensure full compliance with India’s surrogacy laws and regulations."

It said commissioning parents should be mindful that requests for Indian visas may take longer to process due to the increased scrutiny of applications by Indian authorities.

Industry sources estimate 200 babies were born by Indian surrogate mothers for Australian parents last year.


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