Separated after immigration mix-up, Bhavna Bajaj reunited with 4-year-old son
Parents had failed to disclose they were expecting child when they came to Canada
Three years after they were told their son wouldn't be able to join them as Canadian residents, an Ottawa family was reunited Thursday afternoon at the Ottawa International Airport.
Bhavna Bajaj and her husband, Aman Sood, beamed as they carried their young son Daksh out of customs and into the airport's arrivals area.
4 yr old Daksh Sood has been reunited with his parents after 3 years apart <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ottnews?src=hash">#ottnews</a> <a href="https://t.co/uRUh67NGns">pic.twitter.com/uRUh67NGns</a>—@hill_johnstone
"He was very happy, and he started giving hugs and kisses to me," said Bajaj to a group of reporters Thursday. "But he's a bit tired now."
It was a reunion three years in the making: Bajaj and her husband, Aman Sood, came to Canada from India in 2013 but were told the boy would not be granted permanent residency along with them.
The couple has said that a lawyer told them they could sponsor Daksh once they settled down in Canada.
Forgot to declare pregnancy
Bajaj was pregnant when she first filed her claim for permanent residency in 2011, but forgot to declare that pregnancy in the paperwork — an omission she's called an honest mistake.
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The boy remained in India while his parents started petitions and held demonstrations to raise awareness about their case.
On Dec. 23, 2015, Immigration Minister John McCallum called Bajaj to tell her that her son had been granted a temporary resident permit as part of the first step in getting him permanent residency.
'The best moment'
Bajaj said Thursday she had last seen Daksh on a visit to India in 2014, while Sood returned to the country to see his son last month — the first time he'd laid eyes on him in three years.
"It's the best moment for me. I can't think of anything else," said Sood on Thursday. "It seems like the best gift I've ever had in my whole life."
The boy's parents came to Canada from India in 2013. Mistake on immigration forms meant their son stayed behind <a href="https://t.co/vpyRupaPlf">pic.twitter.com/vpyRupaPlf</a>—@hill_johnstone
The couple has said they didn't realize they had made a big mistake until they arrived in Canada in 2013.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada — now Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada — said the couple repeatedly failed to disclose they had a son. The department told CBC News in December 2014 that after they arrived, Bajaj signed a document saying Daksh would continue to live with his grandparents in India.
Bajaj and Sood later applied to sponsor their son on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
The department refused the application and said it appeared "the child never resided with his parents and has continuously resided with his grandparents."
But the couple disputed the assertion that they'd agreed to keep Daksh in India and that they had never resided with their son.
Bajaj and Sood say they're now fighting to change Canada's immigration laws so that other families don't have to go through similar battles.
Last glimpse of Sood Family as they leave Ottawa airport to start new life together <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ottnews?src=hash">#ottnews</a> <a href="https://t.co/QmLbrl68I4">pic.twitter.com/QmLbrl68I4</a>—@hill_johnstone