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Kaurs and Singhs please excuse!

The Canadian Govt's immigration policy that forces people with the two surnames to change them troubles many.

world Updated: Jul 24, 2007 12:46 IST

Kaurs and Singhs planning to emigrate to Canada - please excuse.

The Canadian government's long-standing immigration policy that forces people with the two surnames to change them has delayed many people's arrival in the country, the latest being that of a Punjabi man wanting to join his wife in Alberta province.

Tarvinder Kaur, who is pregnant, said her husband Jaspal Singh's application to become a permanent resident has been delayed for well over a month because of his last name.

He has no choice but to legally change his name in India so he can get to Calgary before she gives birth next month, she said.

Karen Shadd-Evelyn, a spokeswoman with Citizenship and Immigration Canada, said the policy preventing people from immigrating to Canada with those last names has been in place for the last 10 years.

"I believe the thinking behind it in this case is because it is so common. [With] the sheer numbers of applicants that have those as their surnames, it's just a matter for numbers and for processing in that visa office," the Spokeswoman said.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada says there is no such policy against other common last names.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has obtained a copy of a letter sent from the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi to Singh's family stating that "the names Kaur and Singh do not qualify for the purpose of immigration to Canada."

"Why do we need to make a different last name?" said Kaur. "You choose what your last name is going to be and if it's always been a certain way, then why should you have to change it?"

Singh and Kaur are common names in the Sikh community. In a tradition that began more than 300 years ago, the name Singh is given to every baptized male and Kaur to every baptized female Sikh.

The names are used differently by different people. Some use Singh or Kaur as middle names, while others use them as their last names.

Kaur, who was born in Canada, says that's unacceptable.

"If it's going to be a standard policy it should be standard with all common last names. Why is it that it's only Singh or Kaur that's being attacked by this?"

First Published: Jul 24, 2007 12:26 IST