Couple in immigration limbo, waiting for permanent resident card

  • Jan. 26, 2018 8:14 a.m.

Paul Rodgers

A Marysville couple is left separated, confused and frustrated due to a lack of information pertaining to an immigration issue.

Charles O’Hare and his wife Christaine Hubert are currently separated by thousands of kilometres. After recently receiving permanent resident status she travelled to France, but when she went to return home, she was stopped at the border and told that without her physical permanent resident card, she can’t fly home.

Hubert, 64 first met O’Hare, 66 in July, 2011. She had come from France with some friends to meet a girlfriend’s new baby in Marysville and stayed for a one month holiday.

Hubert and O’Hare hit it off right away and they decided that she would like to come to Canada and make a life together.

Hubert returned in December that same year and they have since been married and in September 2017, after about a four year process, she was approved as a permanent resident.

On September 15 they drove to Surrey for a meeting with Immigration Canada, at which time she became a permanent resident and was told that she would receive her card within 60 days.

O’Hare said that the woman at Immigration they spoke with told her, “welcome to Canada, you are now a Canadian citizen.”

“Which is not really true, she’s a permanent resident,” O’Hare said. “There’s still a little bit more that has to be done. But she said she needs to apply for her BC medical as soon as possible and get her social insurance number … [But she said] ‘welcome to Canada, you’re free to travel as you please, you don’t have to check with anybody and enjoy your life in Canada.”

So when Hubert’s brother in France suffered a serious injury, Hubert flew back to go tend to him, leaving October 20 and was set to return November 17. But when she tried to fly home, she was told that without her physical permanent resident card, she is not allowed to fly home to Canada.

Hubert is still in France today and her permanent resident card has still not come in the mail.

“I can’t understand — she has a French passport, why can she not come to this country if she doesn’t have her permanent resident card?” O’Hare asked. “Why can’t her passport allow her to come back to this country. Basically she’s a dual citizen, she has a French passport and she’s a permanent resident of Canada.”

O’Hare explained that he has been dealing with the NDP office in Cranbrook which has been checking into the situation on his behalf, trying to determine where her card is and what’s going on, but he said they have not been able to attain much information.

Hubert went to the Canadian Consulate in Marseille and was told that there’s nothing they can do for her.

“I sent her a letter that we got from immigration that says she can go to a consulate and apply for a special visa to come home and nobody will give her a second look or help her in any way.”

Hubert also flew to the consulate in Paris last week and was told the same thing, that without her permanent resident card she is not allowed back in Canada.

“So she’s been living with family since the 17 of November with no date in sight yet, we can’t find out where her card is, how soon we’re going to get it.”

O’Hare said that they received a letter that read, “If you are, or you will be outside of Canada without a permanent resident card and need to return to Canada on a commercial vehicle, plane, train, boat or bus you may be able to obtain a permanent resident travel document to travel back to Canada.”

She applied for this to mail and sent it off to Paris. According to O’Hare, the consulate at first denied that they had received the application, but he said that Hubert sent him a photo of the form showing that someone at the Consulate signed for it.

Hubert added that Immigration Canada has sent two requests to Paris without receiving a reply back.

Another option posed is that through United States Travel Application, people in France can travel to the U.S. with a visa waiver program.

O’Hare said that Immigration in Vancouver told him that she could fly to the U.S. and that he could pick her up from the border, as it wouldn’t be a commercial vehicle. However, at the time the U.S. was going through a government shutdown, are they were afraid that if she comes to the U.S. and gets stuck at the border there, she won’t have the family support she has back in France.

The lack of information they have been able to get has been extremely troubling and frustrating for them.

“I understand government doesn’t move in speedy ways, but this is somebody’s life that people are playing with. It’s not like two parties bickering over policy and stuff, this is a human life,” said O’Hare.

“And I’m not looking for money back for money spent, all I want is my wife to come home. First time since she’s been here that we never spent Christmas together and I have a hard time sleeping because my mind is every day wondering what’s going on.”

He added that to date he has sent her around $5,000 for living expenses since she’s been over there, and that the experience has been very hard on her and her family that she’s been staying with.

Immigration Canada told the Townsman that for privacy reasons it is unable to comment on an individual’s situation without that individual’s written consent. Consent forms have been sent to Hubert in France and the Townsman will follow up with the story as soon as possible.

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