Winnipeg couple living immigration nightmare after birth of baby in India

An unexpected turn of events for an Indian couple planning to have their baby girl in Winnipeg has led to the family being torn apart.

Joby Varkey and Robin Roy are both Indian citizens and permanent residents in Canada, with full time jobs in Winnipeg.

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Last September, Varkey had to fly to India to visit her dying father while she was pregnant — doctors wouldn’t let her fly back to Winnipeg because she was too close to her delivery date.

The baby, Iris, was born a citizen of India on Sept. 25, but she is prevented from living with her parents in Canada after an application for a temporary resident visa was denied. Iris and her mother have been stranded in India ever since.

“I feel that we had given an explanation letter as to why she was born outside the country and why she needs to be in the country with her parents,” Varkey told Global News via FaceTime from India.

“It was dealt in a very generic way and it was not given the consideration it should have been given.”

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said the application made on behalf of the baby was denied because she was not going to Canada for a temporary purpose.

“We realize that this is a difficult situation for the family, however permanent residents of Canada who have children outside of Canada do not pass on their status to their children,” spokesperson Rémi Larivière said in an emailed statement.

“As such, if they want to bring their children back to Canada with them, they must sponsor them for permanent residence as dependent children.”

The current processing time for that type of application from India is nine months, according to IRCC. By that time, Varkey’s own permanent resident card will be expired and her maternity leave will be up at work.

She will be able to apply for a permanent resident travel document if she is still overseas, but it’s unclear what will happen with her employer.

Robin Roy sits by a stroller full of clothes he purchased for his daughter in Winnipeg.

Meanwhile, in Canada, Roy has to stay in Winnipeg for work. The new dad only got to visit his first child in India for a short period of time after she was born.

“I cannot even describe it because every day I go to see her only through the FaceTime only,” Roy said. “Whenever I see her I wish I could hold her.”

This type of situation isn’t uncommon, according to immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke.

“We’ve seen many similar situations where children are born abroad to either Canadians or permanent residents and there have been issues with bringing the child back to Canada.”

Varkey understands the unfortunate timing that led to her situation, but says she can’t be reunited with her husband at her home in Winnipeg soon enough.

“I just want to bring my baby back, be with my husband and just start my family again.”

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