Bringing children into Canada is hampered by the pandemic
Many temporary Canadian residents are unaware that they now need to have written permission to reintroduce children into the country from the IRCC.
Laurence Lacroix had no plans to return from France to Canada without her daughter. The restaurateur from Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec, is one of many with temporary resident status in Canada whose children are now not allowed to re-enter Canada after travelling with their parents outside Canada.
Currently, some temporary residents of Canada complain that they have been separated from their children due to strict coronavirus restrictions related to international travel. Children of temporary Canadian residents who were born outside of Canada are considered visitors to that country, even if they have already received a Canadian education. This means that Citizenship, Refugees and Immigration Canada (IRCC) must approve their return.
"How do I explain to a 14-year-old girl that her mother has to fly to Canada this coming Saturday ... and I can't give my daughter a date when she's coming home either," Lacroix commented with despair.
Laurence Lacroix and her 14-year-old daughter, Lawhan, flew from Montreal to France on June 21 to visit Lacroix's father, who is dying of cancer. They hadn't seen him since they emigrated to Canada four years ago. After a week with her sick father, the mother and daughter flew from France to Germany to catch a connecting flight to Montreal. However, the woman revealed that Air Canada officials did not allow Lowhan to board the plane "because of her visa." The mother demanded an explanation from the airline as to what was wrong with her daughter's visa, but never received a coherent answer.
Lacroix is just two-and-a-half months away from becoming a permanent resident of Canada, but her Canadian work permit and Lawhan's visitor visa expire on July 20. The woman says she is now torn between wanting to stay with her daughter in France and meeting all of Canada's visa restrictions.
Finding themselves in Europe with limited finances, the mother and daughter traveled 8 hours by bus from Germany to Paris and then another 6 hours by train to stay temporarily at a friend's house. This family's visit to France was only supposed to last one week, but now it will drag on. The mother and daughter's negative COVID-19 tests are now out of date and will have to be retested in order to return to Canada
"We don't even have any personal belongings. Our luggage went to Montreal," explained Laurence Lacroix: "And it's a difficult situation, especially for a 14-year-old girl.
Several families contacted Radio-Canada with similar stories. Eileen Akbulut, her common-law husband and their six-year-old daughter wanted to take advantage of recently relaxed quarantine restrictions for travellers who had been fully vaccinated. As temporary Canadian residents awaiting permanent residency, they had spent two weeks in Mexico and suddenly discovered that their daughter now required permission to re-enter Canada.
"We know the border is closed to tourists, but this is our daughter we're talking about. She's not going to travel in Quebec. That's crazy!" — Agitated Eileen Akbulut.
In a statement to Radio-Canada, IRCC spokesperson Sonia Lesage noted that immediate family members, such as dependents of temporary residents, may be eligible to return to the country as long as they were traveling for important or non-discretionary purposes.
"To enter Canada, children must also obtain written IRCC approval if they are entering from a country other than the United States," Lesage clarified. — This process can take up to 14 business days."
Lawrence Lacroix's daughter will now have to stay in France with family friends until her case is reviewed by the Canadian immigration ministry: