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Photo by Laura Lennie

Photo by Laura Lennie

Carey and Sylvia McGregor and their son, Sean, are expecting the birth of their newest family member in May, as they await the outcome of Sylvia’s resident visa application.

Expecting Stoney Creek couple caught in immigration claws

Wife’s lengthy visa process may bring big medical bill

By Laura Lennie, News Staff

Carey and Sylvia McGregor say joyful feelings about the pending birth of their second son at the beginning of May are being replaced by worry over Sylvia’s immigration status.

The married Stoney Creek couple faces a potentially big medical bill because while Carey is a Canadian citizen, Sylvia is from Taiwan and still awaiting the resident visa she needs to qualify for OHIP coverage.

“It should be a huge celebration, but boy or girl, it’s going to be an expensive one, which isn’t right, but that’s what this is all about,” Carey says of their dilemma, estimating their medical bills could be up to $20,000 because there is no private insurance that covers pregnancy or delivery of a child.

The couple met in Taiwan in 2005 while Carey was on a college internship and married two years later in Canada. They returned to Taiwan, but decided to resettle in Canada last year after the birth of their first son in 2011.

Carey, who works in the restaurant business, says he began preparing the necessary paperwork for his wife’s resident visa while working in Peterborough, but only filed them this past September. Two weeks later, Sylvia told him she might be pregnant.

The good news has become a bit of a nightmare as they await word on her visa.

Carey says he’s tried to get help from several federal and provincial politicians, to no avail. He’s also started an online petition urging the federal government to ease the rules on visa applications, which he says can take anywhere from nine months to two years to process.

He realizes some people will question why he didn’t apply sooner, but blames a process that requires applicants to provide a number of precise details like where they’re going to work, something they couldn’t know while living in Taiwan, where they ran a restaurant.

“We didn’t know these questions, so we just waited till we got back to submit the paperwork,” Carey says, calling the immigration process “like molasses.”

“It has to be 100 per cent accurate and you pay $550. If there are any mistakes, they reject it and you don’t get your money back, so it has to be detailed and proper.”

Stoney Creek NDP MPP Wayne Marston says he’s sympathetic to the McGregor’s plight and blames cuts to Service Canada for not allowing their visa application to be processed more quickly.

He says he believes their case is a “reasonable exception” that should be expedited because Carey is a Canadian and he and his wife want to do everything properly.

“In my opinion, there’s not enough people doing the job these days to be able to keep up with the workload,” Marston says. “If the government wants to speed it up, they either have to change what some of the rules are or qualify them in a different way,” he says. “If you’ve got extenuating circumstances – like a pregnancy – I would suggest there should be something in place to say, ‘Hey, this is exceptional circumstances, we’ll speed this one up.’”

Carey says he hopes his situation will convince the government to rethink how it approaches visa applications, especially for spouses of Canadians who move abroad because they can’t find jobs here.

“Nature takes course and people meet people and fall in love and they get married. It’s quite a natural process, until you come back home and the natural process is halted,” he says. “We moved back here to improve our quality of life for our son. I want to raise my children here and offer them what I had, plus much more. We are living a Canadian life, we are a Canadian family.”

4 Responses to “Expecting Stoney Creek couple caught in immigration claws”

  1. Jane Dutton says:

    Whatever sympathy we have must be tempered by stark reality.

    Anyone could fake marry someone with a serious medical condition and come to Canada and the spouse could claim OHIP, if the rules were not in place.

    Whereas this is obviously not the case here, the McGregor’s may have filed no visa application until she was pregnant, wasting valuable time.

    There’s a bit of good news.If the McGregor’s and MPP Marston contact the Immigration department and it approves Sylvia’s visa medical as soon as it opens her visa application, a letter from the CIC for OHIP will move her insurance coverage ahead quickly. She does not need full visa approval for OHIP. Say “please!”

    Best of luck.Looks like at race to the finish line.

    A boy or a girl? Let us all know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    • The process for the resident visa application is detailed,, you don’t just whip one of them up. We worked on the application when we arrived in Canada, with the help of an immigration lawyer, MP in Peterborough, at the same time, I was working full time and then we relocated cities, to Hamilton, starting a new job,… we paid the non refundable $550 and submitted my wife’s resident visa knowing if there is a mistake, it’s rejected and we lose the money, so it had to be perfect. A couple of weeks later, my wife’s told me she thought she may be pregnant, and she was.
      Our first step after finding out my wife was pregnant was to go to the local MP and with proof of pregnancy, a request letter to expedite the file was sent in Wayne Marston’s envelope. The reply much later than expected was of no care for our situation.
      Have approval tomorrow, and we still have to wait 3 months for OHIP,,,
      My wife is in a high risk pregnancy which consists of more hospital visits. One consultation costs $1150, ultra sound $165, blood work $165…. up to $20k.
      There is no private insurance to prevent this mess, there is NOTHING in place for a situation like this and look at how many Canadians are traveling and getting married to women from other countries. Life might be great where you are, but most always want to move back ‘home’. But if legislation is the way it is, that’s not right!!
      Can’t leave Canada because the paperwork is in process, it would get thrown out and we’d lose our deposit.
      We don’t have that kind of money to have a baby in Canada, so what is one to do, sit home and hope for the best, hope the baby pulls through without check ups??

      We’ll be having a boy, development is good up to now.

      Thanks to all of you who are supporting this situation and pulling for change, a fix, to a gap in the system.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. cheyzac says:

    If the Government would cut back on the # of MPP’s we don’t need, they would not have to cut service’s Canadian people need…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  3. Here’s the petition that will help change legislation or at least put something in place for situations like this.

    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/203/840/358/canadian-relocates-family-back-to-canada-now-needs-lots-of-money-to-have-their-baby/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

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