The owner of a popular Thai restaurant in Halifax says her livelihood is in limbo because her head chef has been told to leave the country.

Aphinan Nochit was brought in from Thailand six years ago to help Cha Baa Thai serve its customers authentic Thai cuisine.

"I like Halifax, I like Canada," he said.

Chaa Baa Thai’s owner May Dao said it's a struggle to find qualified chefs like Nochit because few people know how to cook good Thai food.

"We did try our best to find someone in Halifax, even a bigger city, but unfortunately we had no luck with that," said Dao.

So she decided to hire foreign workers.

In Nochit's case, his wife lives with him in Halifax while his 10-year-old son remains with family in Thailand.

Three weeks ago, Nochit's work visa renewal was denied because Immigration Canada said he didn't leave the country when his previous visa expired.

"Both him and his wife break down a cry so much. They say they don't know why they got refused. They say they really don't want to leave Halifax," said Dao.

Dao expanded Cha Baa Thai in 2012, opening a third location in Bedford. She said she is worried losing Nochit will affect her business.

“He’s the main chef in the kitchen so without him, I’m worried that the business cannot present the cuisine consistently… that’s my biggest fear,” she said.

Dao said she submitted Nochit's application two months before his previous visa expired.

Then, she said she was told by government officials the application was on hold while Cha Baa Thai underwent a routine review.

Dao has since passed that review but Nochit has been told he must still be out by the end of the month.