Society

I’ve been waiting five years for my parents to join me in Canada

"It was a big blow to see the broken system derail so many lives"
Vikramjit Brar
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I was in Grade 11 when my parents started talking about sending me to Canada for college. We lived in Muktsar, a small, crime-ridden city in Punjab, India. My father was a police officer, and my mother stayed home with me and my younger brother, Amanjit. My parents always wanted us to have more opportunities, so I moved to Toronto in 2008 for a computer networking diploma at Humber College. When I graduated, I told my parents that I wanted to stay. I heard that Saskatchewan had a nominee program where your employer could fast-track your permanent residency after 1,200 hours of work, so I moved to Regina and found a job with a company that made windows. I put in lots of overtime and hit 1,200 hours within eight months—but by then, Saskatchewan had changed its rules and required a minimum of one year of work. Four months later, I filed my paperwork, and by 2012, I had my permanent residency.

Three years later, Amanjit moved to Australia for university, and I invited my parents to come and stay with me in Canada. At the time, I was living in Edmonton, driving trucks for a company that shipped goods for supermarkets. I applied for a super visa, which allows parents of Canadian residents to stay here for five years. My parents arrived in May of 2015 and fell in love with Canada’s orderly streets and pretty scenery. After a month, they wanted to stay here permanently.

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We needed to enter a lottery system just to apply for their permanent residency. We weren’t picked in 2016, but when we were accepted the following year, we were through the roof with excitement. I hired an immigration consultant, who helped us prepare the extensive applications, which we submitted in May of 2018. The expected processing time was two years. By then, my parents’ super visa had expired. Before they left for Muktsar, they got to meet Deeksha—the woman who would later become my wife.

The consultant told us that immigration services would request a medical exam, which came in four months later. It felt like a good sign, but after my parents completed it in India, we didn’t hear anything for another six months. The only way to follow up on an application is to fill out a web form; you’re supposed to get a reply within 30 days. Thirty days turned into three years. It was frustrating—I must have sent in those web forms over 50 times. Our immigration consultant made calls on our behalf, but all we heard was the same thing: our file was in process. In October of 2021, I got an email requesting my parents’ fingerprints. They got a relative to drive them seven hours to an RCMP-approved biometrics facility in India. Confirming receipt of their fingerprints was the last we heard from immigration services.

In 2022, I applied for another super visa. Even that was delayed. When my mother’s super visa finally arrived the next year, my father’s did not. Recently, we were alerted that her super visa was mistakenly issued, so it was deemed inactive until my father gets approved. They are still in India today.

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I later came across a CBC article that said a flaw in the system had assigned tens of thousands of immigration applications to inactive staff. I don’t know if that affected our application, but it was a big blow to see the broken system derail so many lives. I’ve spent over $10,000 in consultation and application fees, but since the government isn’t holding up its side of the bargain, I’ve been separated from my parents for five years.

In 2022, Deeksha and I bought our first house in Airdrie, Alberta, where we’ve assigned my parents a nice room with big windows. I wish they were there to enter my house with me and give it their blessings. We’ve also put some other things on hold.

Deeksha and I want children, but we’d like my parents to be here for the pregnancy and birth. I know that, one day, our family will be together again. My brother and his wife also plan to move to Airdrie, and my dream is for all of us to live on an acreage. I like to imagine the kids running around the house with our dogs, while my parents and I tend to plants in the backyard garden. For now, all we can do is wait and hope.

—As told to Andrea Yu