Canadian dream dashed with death of fianc�
Published Saturday, November 5, 2011 8:26PM PDT
A young Australian woman living in B.C. for almost five years is facing deportation after her Canadian fiancé's sudden death from liver cancer.
Julie Andrews came to Canada to enjoy life in the mountains and study nursing at the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook. Then in 2008, she fell head-over-heels in love with David Grigat.
"I met someone and he just got me. We got each other," Andrews told CTV News.
The pair got engaged and David signed on to sponsor his wife-to-be in her bid to become a permanent resident.
"Everything was going to plan. We knew it would take a long time and we understood that you had to do the paperwork and cross all your t's and dot your i's," Andrews said.
But in the spring, David was diagnosed with liver cancer and died within weeks.
It was a terrible blow for Andrews, made much worse when Citizenship and Immigration Canada declined her visa application and closed her file.
"I seem to be on a losing streak," she said, choking back tears.
Immigration officials have ordered her to pack up her belongings and return to Australia or face deportation in the new year.
Andrews has written letter after letter to the government, pleading for compassion.
"I am financially able to support myself. I wanted to go back to work. I've been in Canada almost five years and I feel it's my home. I own my own house, my friends are here, my family's here, my cat is here," she said.
"David died, but this is still my home."
But officials are not budging, explaining that a sponsor is necessary to consider someone for permanent residency.
"If circumstances change and the sponsor is unable to fulfill the undertaking, the application will be refused," CIC spokeswoman Jen Burkholder said in a statement.
Friends in Fernie are incensed by Andrews' ordeal.
"I couldn't believe that such an injustice could be happening, when so many people are allowed to stay in Canada and they don't have nearly as much reason to be here as she does," Amanda Parker said.
Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said Andrews' case "cries out for compassionate relief," but added that this sort of situation is all too common.
"Heartbreaking cases cause concern, not just at the level of the applicant, but individual immigration officers fret this type of situation. They can pass the buck up the food chain to the office of the minister, ensuring that justice and humanitarian relief is provided in deserving cases," he said.
"The minister is responsible for solving humanitarian issues that do arise when there's a death."
But immigration officials say that Andrews doesn't qualify to stay under strict humane-compassionate grounds.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger