A New Delhi man prevented from returning to Canada because of a bureaucratic tangle is back at his Surrey job and has been granted permanent resident status.
Satvir Singh, a long-haul trucker, returned to Canada on Sunday for the first time since initially running afoul of border regulations in February.
The 26-year-old had been living in the Tacoma area while trying to work out the difficulties that began when he tried to drive across the Canadian border after flying into Seattle from India, where he had gone for his sister’s wedding.
Because he had lived in Canada since 2008 and crossed the border regularly as part of his job, Singh didn’t think he would have any problems with the Canadian Border Services Agency. He had a work permit and was in the process of becoming a permanent resident.
But, apparently, his paperwork was only good for trips between Canada and the U.S. that didn’t involve any third countries.
Singh’s trip to India triggered a need for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV).
Acquiring a $75 TRV normally takes a day or two at a Canadian consulate, but the Seattle facility was closed in January and Singh would have had to go the next closest location, which is in Los Angeles.
Not understanding what was happening, Singh went back to the border again — with the result being he was issued a Canadian deportation order.
The deportation was a serious situation that would have barred Singh from Canada and made him ineligible for permanent residency status.
Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland got involved with the situation.
“They completely ruined this guy’s life,” said Kurland.
Complicating the situation was that getting the proper paperwork from L.A. could have taken a year. In New York, the wait for a TRV would be just eight weeks.
But Kurland said the situation could have been solved if the CBSA had told Singh to apply for the $200 Temporary Resident Permit (TRP).
“What’s absent here is a duty to assist,” said Kurland, who feels border officials need to be more helpful to Canadian residents.
He also believes the resulting media attention on the case played a role because, according to Kurland, stories in the press trigger reviews by officials higher up in the immigration system.
“I think it was all the stories in the paper,” said Kurland.
“The higher-ups know full well I’m not going away,” he added.
A spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada made it clear the truck driver had been in trouble because he broke the rules.
“Mr. Singh was removed because he attempted to enter the country on two occasions without the necessary documents,” said the spokeswoman in an email.
“As we have mentioned, a visa officer determined that Mr. Singh’s decision to return to Canada was a deliberate attempt to circumvent the visa requirement.
“He was first issued an exclusion order for trying to enter the country without a Temporary Resident Visa,” she continued, pointing out that such an exclusion order requires a special permission called an Authorization to Return to Canada (ARC).
“Two days after being issued the exclusion order Mr. Singh tried to enter Canada without the required ARC. Mr. Singh told an immigration officer that he was aware of the visa requirement but chose not to comply, saying that a friend had done it recently without any problem.
“Mr. Singh also said he was concerned that the visa office might not issue the permit in time.
“This is not just a misunderstanding. Mr. Singh told an immigration officer that he was aware of the visa requirement but chose not to comply.”
Immigration consultant Kuldeep Bansal, who was working with Singh, supports Kurland’s contention about media attention.
“The media played a big role in this case,” Bansal said.
Bansal believes the situation is being made worse by the closure of the Seattle consulate.
“Seattle was a big help,” said Bansal. “Vancouver will be the first place affected.
“Los Angeles is already swamped with applications.”
Bansal believes the problems are a combination of complicated rules and newcomers’ lack of knowledge.
“There are so many things people don’t understand,” he said.
But Bansal also believes that where a newcomer arrives plays a large role.
“Airport people are more familiar with the [immigration] rules than at the land border,” he contended.
Luckily, the problem — at least for Singh — has been solved.