In January the Townsman reported about Charles O’Hare and Christaine Hubert, a Marysville couple who were left separated by international borders after receiving inadequate information from Immigration Canada. Hubert finally was able to travel back to Canada and arrived home via the United States on February 17 after nearly four months away.
Hubert, who came to Canada from France, and O’Hare have been together since 2011 and are married, and in September 2017 she was approved as a permanent resident of Canada. When she went to the Immigration Canada office in Surrey, she was told that she would receive the physical card within 60 days and that she was free to travel as she pleased.
So when her brother back home in France suffered a serious injury, Hubert felt confident that she was able to travel there to meet him and left in October, planning to return a month later. But when she got to the airport to fly home, she was told that she could not travel to Canada without her permanent resident card.
The couple tried to deal with the government both in Canada and at the Canadian Consulate in France to no avail. Hubert was turned away from the Consulate twice.
“They denied her entry even though she had paperwork saying that she could apply for a special Visa through the Consulate,” said O’Hare. “They wouldn’t even let her in the building, made her stand out in the rain while they took her paperwork inside, to come outside, just a security guard, and told her that, ‘nope, nobody can help you, you don’t need to come back here, you can’t come in here, you’re not a Canadian.’”
After exhausting numerous options with no success, her Permanent Resident Card finally arrived in the mail on January 27 and the couple decided to apply for an American Electronic Travel Visa, because the rules allowed for her to travel to the U.S. where O’Hare could then travel to pick her up at the border. He wouldn’t have been able to just send her the card in the mail.
Because of everything they’ve been through since November, Hubert was leery of entering the States although Immigration Canada told her she had enough information that she would be able to get into Canada, but they decided to go for it. A few travel delays aside, she arrived safely in Spokane, where O’Hare, and their dog, met her and they made it through the border with no hassle.
“She’s quite happy, the first thing she did when we got home she said, ‘Oh my house, my house, my house!’” said O’Hare.
“To add insult to injury it was a snowstorm from the time I left Cranbrook till I got there and terrible weather on the way back,” he added, “but end result is we’re back home together and that’s all that counted.”
O’Hare said that he hopes their story can be a cautionary tale for anyone who is, or could be in a similar situation. He is unsure why his wife was told she was free to travel before getting her card in the mail, and why no red flags went off at the airport before she flew to France.
“Why did it take until when she came home? I mean she had a stamp on her passport from Immigration in Surrey, you would have thought that somebody would have looked at that and said ‘whoa, do you have a permanent resident card? [Otherwise] you’re going to have problems getting back into the country.’”
The two of them are extremely relieved and happy to be together again for the first time since October, and now that she has the card in her possession, they should never have to go through this sort of ordeal again.