Surrey mother still can’t convince immigration officials her marriage is the real thing



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L to R: Harpreet Singh, daughter Kashvi and Harpreet Sandhu together in India. Sandhu has been fighting to get her husband Canadian residency for four years. Submitted photo.

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Harpreet Sandhu just wants her family to be “complete” with her husband, two-year-old daughter and baby on the way together in Surrey.

But instead, her husband, Harpreet Singh, is a world away in India, while she lives at her parents’ Surrey home, raising her daughter Kashvi alone, terrified this will only continue once the baby arrives in September.

Since she married in June 2010, Sandhu has been fighting to bring her husband to Canada. But, appeal after appeal, Citizenship and Immigration Canada repeatedly denies their applications for sponsorship and permanent residency.

“It’s been hard,” Sandhu told Vancouver Desi on Wednesday. “I just need him here right now … it’s the second pregnancy and he needs to be here.”

Singh already missed the birth of Kashvi, his first child, as CIC denied him residency, claiming the marriage appeared “arranged in haste” and was “not genuine and was entered into primarily for the purpose of acquiring permanent residence in Canada,” which was originally reported by Vancouver Desi in October 2012.

Nearly two years later, Sandhu is still fighting — this time taking her case to Federal Court in August.

According to immigration consultant Mumtaz Khan, it’s “unusual” for a case like this to go on for so long, as most people can’t afford the costs of going to federal court. And while it’s cost well over $30,000 for Sandhu to carry on the case, “they haven’t given up,” he said.

The latest decision from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, dated February 2014 and obtained by Vancouver Desi, said that although the immigration minister’s counsel now “consented that the marriage was genuine,” the appeal was still dismissed because counsel believes “the primary purpose for the marriage was to acquire a status or privilege.”

“It’s just shocking that they accept that the marriage is genuine but they won’t let the couple be together,” said Khan.

“When you look at a marriage — even if it’s a love marriage — one looks at a number of factors.

“Of course (the fact she’s from Canada) is one of the factors when you look at arranged marriages, but this was not the only factor … that swayed them to kind of contract the marriage.”

“They (also) looked at education, family background, her Sikh religion.”

Khan chalks the situation up to the immigration board applying “the letter of the law” as opposed to “the spirit of the law.”

“If they looked at the spirit of the law, this young couple should have been reunited,” he said.

“This young woman is suffering, she’s bringing up the child as a single parent.”

In an attempt to keep her family together, Sandhu has been travelling back and forth to India — Kashvi in tow — where she’ll stay with her husband for about five months at a time.

She and her daughter just returned from their most recent trip in April, but due to Sandhu’s diabetes and how far along she is in her pregnancy she can’t return any time soon.

“It shouldn’t be like this,” said Sandhu. “I’m a Canadian, my daughter’s a Canadian, too.”

“She should have her father here and I should have my husband here. It should be all of us together in Canada — not him in India and us going there to visit him.”

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