Surrey trucker is a model immigrant but now he’s trapped in Tacoma

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

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

Satvir Singh is an “angel” by immigration standards — yet he has a deportation order tied to his name.

And now the 26-year-old truck driver is stranded in Tacoma, Wash., scrambling for an official document that could get him back to Canada — but could take a year to arrive.

Singh, who is originally from New Delhi, has been living in a basement suite in Surrey with his cousin and friend since 2010 and has lived in Canada since 2008. He works as a long-haul truck driver for Raffles Transportation Group and has a working visa valid until June.

On March 8 he even received an email from Citizenship and Immigration Canada stating that his application for permanent residence was moving forward.

“The thing is, he now can’t pick it up,” said local immigration lawyer Richard Kurland. “Worse than that — they have to cancel it because he has a deportation order.”

“This guy is an angel as far as immigration is concerned: He’s got a work permit, he’s legally here, he legally came in and he’s selected for permanent status.”

Singh’s  deportation is the result of a technicality — an honest mistake on his part.

For work, he crosses the U.S.-Canada border every week, his single entry visa allowing him to do so. So when he left for India to attend his sister’s wedding in December, he thought his paperwork was in good standing, unaware it was only valid between Canada and the U.S.

Upon his return via Seattle on Feb. 12, he was told he couldn’t return home until he got a temporary resident visa (TRV).

Confused, he returned to the border the next day without the TRV, so he was issued a deportation notice.

Normally this would be an easy fix at the Candian Consulate in Seattle, but since the Canadian visa and immigration section there shut down Jan. 29, Singh had to travel to the Los Angeles office.

“And Los Angeles has told him he can’t have his file processed for at least a year because of backlogs,” said Kurland.

Unable to work in the United States, Singh is quickly running out of money.

“I want to come to Canada because my job is there,” Singh said from Tacoma. “I’m really stuck over here.”

According to Kurland, only Immigration Minister Jason Kenney “can pull him out of this one” and Singh’s file needs to be pulled to fast-track his Authorization to Return to Canada and TRV.

“The reason you want a TRV control in the first place is to make sure the person is safe for Canada from an immigration perspective,” said Kurland. “The fundamental purpose of that piece of paper is not to give a hard time to guys like [Singh].”

“[While] they’re not responsible for babysitting people — and it’s [Singh’s] fault … they’re just missing the common-sense card.”

If his case doesn’t get pushed along, “he forfeits everything,” said Kurland.

“He loses his job, he loses his immigration, he’s banned from Canada for a year.”

“They should have fixed this one — why would they want to ruin a guy’s life basically in the pursuit of the right piece of paper?”

And according to Kurland, Singh’s “disaster at the border” is only going to be the first of many.

“[The Seattle] closures in the last two or three months — it’s going to impact Western Canada … specifically Vancouver more than any other place in the country,” he said.

“Already you’re caught in a transport loop, in addition, Los Angeles is completely swamped with inventory.”

lcahute@theprovince.com
twitter.com/larissacahute

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