Kimberley woman trapped in immigration limbo

Kiri Talbot of Kimberley has been notified that she has overstayed her work permit and should voluntarily leave the country.

  • Nov. 24, 2014 8:00 p.m.
Kiri Talbot with step-son Liam.

Kiri Talbot with step-son Liam.

Carolyn Grant

Kiri Talbot of Kimberley has been notified by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) that she has overstayed her work permit and should voluntarily leave the country within 30 days.

However, Talbot’s situation is complicated due to her 16-year old stepson and a looming custody hearing on December 15.

She is hoping to rally some support in her home community for her problem.

“We’ve got to the point where we’re desperate and need any help we can get,” Talbot said.

Talbot has been in Canada since 2007, and co-owns two houses in Kimberley. She fell in love with Kimberley on a ski trip and stayed.

“As a Brit, I can leave and then come back for six months at a time,” she said.

She has never had permanent resident status but did apply for it when she married a Canadian in 2011. At that time she applied for permanent residency with her husband as her sponsor.

His undertaking to support Talbot if necessary after she became a Canadian was approved in May 2012.

However at that time, the marriage was already in trouble. The couple separated, with Talbot’s 16-year old step-son Liam (14 at the time) choosing to remain with her.

Because her now ex-husband was threatening to withdraw sponsorship, she applied for and received a temporary work permit (she is a geologist by trade). The two-year permit was granted in July of 2012 and has since expired.

In June 2014, a month before her work visa was to expire, Talbot applied for a six-month visitor’s visa. She wanted to extend her stay in Canada to attend a custody hearing at which she hopes to become Liam’s official guardian. That hearing is set for this December 15.

But instead, CIC advised her she had overstayed her work permit and sent her a letter asking her to voluntarily leave.

It arrived on Nov. 12, 2014, and she has 30 days to comply. She fears the next step is a removal order.

“CIC says you have to go in 30 days,”Talbot said. “I do have an immigration lawyer and he says to stay where I am. He can hopefully deflect  deportation and buy us some time.

“I applied for a visitor permit in order to get custody. CIC knew my reasons. In fact they phoned me on November 5 and gave me the impression that I would get a permit to next July but then I get this letter out of the blue.”

At this point, Talbot says she doesn’t expect to be able to gain permanent residency. She can’t apply as a skilled worker, because she hasn’t been working as a geologist, choosing to stay home and raise her step-son. But she can’t leave permanently in less than three weeks.

“I have property to sell, pets to process for moving back to the UK and the custody issue to settle.”

She is hoping the custody hearing will go her way in December.

“It’s probably not going to be that easy, although there has been no effort on my ex’s behalf to apply for custody before,” she said. “If I get joint custody, I can take him with me. But it’s not ideal. He’s Kootenay born and bred. And he  says he will not live with my ex or his family, even if I have to leave.

“If it hadn’t been for Liam, when my ex left, I could have packed up and gone. But I’ve got this kid who has been through so much. He needs security, consistency and stability. He is the sweetest kid.

“I am totally in a holding pattern right now. I have confidence in my lawyer that I will be here for Christmas. I’d love to stay permanently but I don’t think that will happen.

“But I’ve invested everything here. I need to sell. The best case scenario is that I get custody and a few months to deal with everything. Right now I’m in no man’s land.”