She’s carrying a Canadian citizen in her womb, but immigration officials continue to deny Faozia Salah entry to Canada on the grounds the Yemeni citizen may overstay her welcome as a temporary resident.
Salah and her husband, Osama Al-Raboai – a Canadian citizen who left Yemen with his family at age 13 – fled the war-torn country with their one-year-old daughter Nada, also a Canadian citizen.
The couple met when both were in Yemen in 2012.
Due to give birth to their second child in mid-August, the family was granted a short extension on their temporary refuge in Malaysia. But when that expires in September, they may be out of options, according to immigration lawyer Seamus Murphy of Ottawa’s Gerami Law firm, who said he was “dismayed” by CIC’s decision Thursday.
The family had applied for a temporary resident visa and was denied in late April, but according to Murphy, the government agreed to reopen the file and reconsider the application.
The second application was denied in a letter dated June 16.
The sole factor working against Salah in the decision, according to Murphy, is the very thing that should be easing her entry into Canada: her Canadian citizen husband.
In the decision, the High Commission of Canada in Singapore states, “You have not satisfied me that you would leave Canada at the end of your stay as a temporary resident,” and cites Salah’s “purpose of visit” as the only offending factor.
According to the denial letter, the government’s decision was not based on any of the more serious grounds contained within the CIC checklist; Salah was not flagged for any human rights violations, threats to national security, links to espionage or terrorism, criminality, or health or financial reasons.
Murphy said the desire to reunite family members is one of the most common reasons cited by hopeful immigrants.
“Not only is it a normal procedure, but one of the main objectives of the Immigration Act is to facilitate the reunion of families in Canada, and that’s why there are so many people who do bring their spouses and children over,” Murphy said.
“In addition, there are also several international treaties Canada has entered into… which state that reuniting children with their parents in the same country must be done in an expeditious and fair manner.”
Murphy said since Malaysia is not a signatory to the United Nations convention on refugees, and since Canada has again denied her entry, Salah could be forced to move back to a war zone with a newborn baby in tow.
Malaysia has already granted two extensions, the latest expires Sept. 6, on the condition the family use the time to make arrangements to leave the country.
“She should at least be able to give birth in Malaysia, which is fortunate, but at that point she’s going to have a newborn baby and there’s no guarantee that status will be extended again. It was discretionary in the first place… and if Canada is not going to let her in, she doesn’t have any other options. There’s no other country where they have any probable claim to citizenship, and there’s no way to claim refugee status in Malaysia,” Murphy said.
“I’m dismayed to receive another negative decision, and again without any reasons to explain why we’re not getting the relief she’s seeking.”
Salah’s Canadian husband, Osama Al-Raboai, told Postmedia in May he just wants his family together to live a peaceful life in Canada.
“Thinking about what we went through in Yemen, it’s just terrible that we may have to go back,” he said in a recent interview from Malaysia.
Al-Raboai told Postmedia that hospitals in Yemen are frequently attacked and many have closed. He said he and his family fled Yemen, which has seen civil war rage since early 2015, when it became too dangerous, and after witnessing a bomb destroy a neighbour’s house.
With files from Meghan Hurley