CIC refuses to fast-track trapped trucker’s application to return to Canada

Published: March 14, 2013


Satvir Singh

Satvir Singh, a 26-year-old truck driver who’s lived in Canada since 2008, has been living in Tacoma, Wash., since Feb. 12, 2013 when he was denied entrance back into British Columbia. Patrick Hagerty/ Special to The Province

Citizenship and Immigration Canada will not step in to help a model immigrant out of a bind.

Surrey long-haul trucker Satvir Singh has lived in Canada legally since 2008, has a work permit valid until June and is currently being reviewed for permanent residence.

But right now Singh, 26, has a deportation order tied to his name.

When Singh returned from visiting family in India on Feb. 12 via Seattle, he was told he couldn’t return to his Surrey home until he got a temporary resident visa (TRV) — which he thought he didn’t need because his visa allows him to cross the U.S.-Canada border every week for work.

With the immigration section of the Candian Consulate in Seattle recently closed, his only option was to travel to the Los Angeles office. Instead of making the trek, he decided to try his luck again at the border.

But he was ultimately deported from Canada.

“A visa officer determined that Mr Singh’s decision  to return to Canada via the United States was a deliberate attempt  to circumvent the visa requirement,” CIC said in an emailed statement. “Our records indicate that Mr. Singh told an immigration officer that he was aware of the visa requirement but chose not to comply.”

According to local immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, they “miss the point completely.”

“I don’t get a sense that the guy’s deliberate in anything,” Kurland said. “Nothing in those notes says he was belligerent, argumentative … He’s a passive individual who just asked for a break.”

“Why did you have to write up a deportation order? … That is outright punitive.”

The deportation order now “bars [Singh] from Canada for a year and destroys his immigration case and eliminates his permit.”

In hopes of revoking the order, he applied for an Authorization to Return to Canada (ARC) at the L.A. office — but because of backlogs in the system it’s going to take a year to process.

So on Wednesday, Kurland sent a letter to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney asking him to fast-track the case. But according to CIC this simply will not happen.

“Special consideration is not intended for those who have deliberately attempted to circumvent our immigration system,” CIC wrote.

While Kurland agreed there’s “no sympathy” for a visitor without a TRV, he’s asking the government to “look at the whole situation.”

“They can try their best to write him up as a guy who flouts the law … [but] that doesn’t jive with what actually happened,” he said. “There’s a huge difference between a case about a TRV and an immigration case.”

“[He’s] been selected to live here forever and you’re supposed to be welcoming those people with open arms, and given the severe consequences to [him] this is mean-spirited.”

“Why ruin his life to make their point?”

The only option CIC is offering Singh is to apply for his ARC in New York City, where the processing time is two months.

“Why would they want him to do that if they could give a paper at the border?” Kurland said. “They’re intentionally inflicting this stuff on him.”

“There’s a duty under the law to facilitate immigration – not prevent it. And this case may be a signal of the end to that principle.”

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