Holiday nightmare leaves man stranded in Mexico due to Canadian immigration delays
For a couple from British Columbia, a much-needed holiday in Mexico has turned into an immigration nightmare due to processing delays.
Couple Michelle and Brian Le Lievre first met in the UK and now live in Victoria, BC, where Michelle works as a customer service representative and Brian works as a receiver.
They moved to Canada 21 years ago and were looking forward to their first holiday outside Canada.
“Brian was told never to lose his landed immigrant status paperwork that the airport stapled to the back of his (British) passport,” Michelle told Daily Hive in an interview. “Otherwise he would never be able to travel outside of Canada and return without it. This is the only document that we thought we needed to travel.”
It wasn’t until this year that they decided to travel outside Canada and that’s when they learned that Brian would require a permanent resident card (PR card) to return to Canada. So with the couple set to leave for a weeklong vacation in Mexico on April 1, they applied for a PR card on February 1. They were told it would take four weeks to process.
“Four weeks came and went and no card,” said Michelle. “We had a decision to make.”
They had two options: take a chance that Brian’s card would arrive by mail to a family member while the couple was away. Or stay and lose the $4,000 they spend on their holiday.
“We were told by so many people that it should be fine if you take documents proving you were a permanent resident and that the airline should let you back,” said Michelle. “Well, that didn’t happen!”
The couple was supposed to return to Canada on April 8 but Brian was unable to travel.
Michelle said that their daughter-in-law Arielle Boivin even reached out to their MP Alistair MacGregor for help. A meeting was scheduled but cancelled due to the federal strike.
“We never heard anything more from his secretary or Mr. MacGregor,” she said.
On May 10, the family learned that Brian’s permanent resident travel document had been approved and was required to hand over his passport at the Canadian embassy in Mexico City, a two-hour flight from where he was staying. Since they were told that they couldn’t guarantee how long it would take to process, Brian had to spend another four nights in a hotel.
Now in Mexico for over a month, the cost of Brian’s domestic flight and accommodation has been adding up.
In an email to Daily Hive, an IRCC spokesperson stated, “Due to privacy laws, we cannot comment on a specific case.”
“Please note that individuals may not travel without a valid document,” reads the statement. “Permanent residents (PR) who are outside Canada and need to enter Canada in less than six weeks can submit an application for a Permanent Resident Travel Document (PRTD) at the nearest visa application centre, mark their application as ‘urgent,’ and provide their travel dates and flight itinerary. A PRTD will allow a permanent resident to re-enter Canada if they don’t have a PR card.”
The current processing time to renew or replace a permanent resident card is 76 days but “individuals may apply for urgent processing of a PR card.”
Ever since coming forward with their story, Michelle said that people have reached out to her online to express support.
“But more so that they sympathize,” she said.
For now, it appears to be a waiting game for a family frustrated by Canada’s immigration system.
“I think it is absolutely disgusting that the system is so hard to navigate, the forms are confusing, and that you can’t speak to a human being to ask questions,” said Michelle. “At this point, they had copies of his passport, his Canadian driving license, his SIN card, his T4s, the title to our home, and his landed immigration paperwork from 2002. We were dumbfounded — what else did they need ?”
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