Patrick Kongawi says “Canada can become a prison, really a real prison for immigrants”
Difficult to visit Canada when you come from a ‘troubled’ country, he says
By Omayra Issa, CBC News Posted: Feb 18, 2016 11:55 AM CT Last Updated: Feb 18, 2016 11:55 AM CT
A Canadian who has been struggling to bring his parents to visit for the past 13 years blames the constant refusal of visas on the fact that they are citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the rejection letters, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) says that Patrick Kongawi’s parents did not convince its agents that they will leave the country before their visas expire.
Kongawi, who has lived in Saskatchewan for 22 years, says his parents don’t intend to stay in Canada. He says they meet all the criteria for obtaining a visa.
“I feel that the immigration office treats you differently depending on where you come from. If I did not come from a troubled country, if I was from a stable country, I think I would not have experienced the same obstacles,” Kongawi said.
Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, nationals of 148 countries, mainly in Africa, the Middle East and South America need a visa to visit Canada. However, citizens from 58 other countries can visit Canada without visas.
When Kongawi contacted Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, a spokesman with his office said Kongawi’s mother would be eligible to apply for another visa should she provide full documentation and add the following:
- Funds available.
- Employment history.
- Income history.
- Bank statements for the past six months are “often suggested to show funds available aren’t a sudden lump sum deposit or loan.”
- Show ties to home that will “absolutely require her to return home. This includes employment, property, current rental/lease agreements that will continue in her absences and an explanation (a photo might help) of any family back home that rely on her. These things will show she will absolutely return home.”
- Mention she visited a long time ago and “provide documents showing past travel to other countries and returns home.”
The spokesman specified that he was relaying information from CIC.
Kongawi believes that this is an invasion of his family’s privacy and the conditions are overly complex.
“This is not a balanced system because if you were Belgian or French, you do not need a visa. You come here, you go. It’s over,” Kongawi said.
“It’s very difficult because we always look suspicious … Canada can become a prison, really a real prison for immigrants.”
Kongawi fears that the newly arrived Syrian refugees in Canada could face the same fate as him and be separated from their family members, because they’ll need visas to visit them.