Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 9/8/2011 (2352 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Later this month, Auryn Goze will celebrate the first of her four children getting married, but with a touch of sadness.
Her oldest brother in the Philippines, who's visited Canada before, is not being allowed into the country to attend.
"I don't know why this happened," said the Montessori School kindergarten teacher who immigrated to Canada in 1993.
"I'm really disappointed," said Goze. "All my siblings from the States are coming in — it's an opportunity for us to see each other again."
They were hoping the oldest, 68-year-old Ariel, would arrive from the Philippines, but his application was rejected.
"They said no — 'You have not satisfied me that you... would leave Canada at end of temporary period if you were authorized to enter,' " she said, reading a copy of the visa officer's decision.
"Once he visited before and he even left before his visa expired," she said of her Filipino brother's visit to Canada in 1996.
"I am aware there are people who abuse the system," she said, adding immigration officials ought to kick them out and keep them out. "They should do their work and go after people who abuse the system. People doing it the right way are the ones getting turned down."
Goze's brother is not alone, said Winnipeg North MP Kevin Lamoureaux.
"Every week, individuals are denied an opportunity to visit for weddings or funerals," said the Liberal MP. "It gets very aggravating from a politician's perspective."
He's been travelling across Canada meeting with groups with visa complaints similar to the ones he hears at his Winnipeg North riding office.
"India's a huge problem. So is the Philippines and the West Indies," said Lamoureux. "On average, we will write eight to 20 letters a week asking for support for people to come from all over to Canada to visit."
The letters often help, but there ought to be a more expedient way to process loved ones' temporary visa applications, he said.
A Winnipeg man from India who had a stroke and can't travel hasn't been able to have any family members come to visit him, he said. A woman whose husband died invited her sister in India to help her through her grief, but her visa application was rejected.
However, the Harper government says it's increased the number of visas since the Conservatives took over from the Liberals five years ago.
"Unlike the Liberals, who always over-promised and under-delivered on immigration, this Conservative government is working to create a fair and transparent immigration system that balances the high demands placed upon it, while maintaining its legal integrity and the security of all Canadians," a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said in an email.
She said they've exempted many countries from needing visitor visas, such as Taiwan and Poland, and announced a 10-year, multiple-entry visa that allows family members of Canadians to visit Canada as often as they'd like without needing to renew or reapply.
Unfortunately for Goze, the exemptions don't apply to the Philippines.
Immigration officials make it tough for working folks in developing countries to come to Canada for special occasions, Goze said.
"It seems like you have to appease the gods before you come in," she said. "If I have money, then I can go — but we're not rich."
Lamoureaux also notes more people are immigrating to Canada, so more people are trying to visit their loved ones here.
"That demand has increased the number of people rejected," Lamoureaux said. "Today, it's affecting thousands," he said.
"What's new is the problem is so severe," said the MP, who is circulating a petition calling for visa reform.
It asks the federal government to take the action needed to ensure those who want to visit Canada, who have family in Canada, be given extra consideration when applying for a visiting visa.