Ottawa

Ottawa man's family reunification plan stalled by wife's stateless status

Jaber Mufarreh hoped to start the new year with his wife and two young children at his side in Ottawa, but his wife's status as a stateless person in Kuwait is preventing her from getting a key document for her permanent residency application.

Farah Ghodian can't get a passport necessary for her permanent residency application

Shams (left) and Ahmed (right) live in Kuwait with their mother. Their father wants them to join him in Ottawa but their mother's stateless status has her permanent residency application stalled. (courtesy of Jaber Mufarreh)

Jaber Mufarreh hoped to start the new year with his wife and two young children at his side in Ottawa but his wife's status as a stateless person in Kuwait is preventing her from getting a key document for her permanent residency application as the deadline to complete it looms.

Farah Ghodian is Biduna traditionally nomadic people that Kuwait regards as illegal within its borders, which prevents her from getting a passport. The Canadian embassy in Kuwait won't recognize her Red Cross travel documents.

Mufarreh has been working to get his wife permanent residency for more than five years, and the latest extension to her application is up on Saturday. His five-old-daughter and 18-month old son have Canadian passports but he doesn't want to separate them from the mother they have lived with their entire lives.

"I'm not asking for something big," he said. "I want to take them [to Ottawa] with me. To go to school. To have a better life."

Mufarreh came to Canada from Kuwait in 2000 and is now a Canadian citizen.

Happy ending on hold

​Arghavan Gerami, an Ottawa lawyer working to help unify the family, said the Canadian embassy is insisting that Red Cross travel documents are for refugees, even though they normally provide a bridge for stateless people, as well.

"It's not uncommon. That's what they use it for," she said. "I said, 'Someone's got to do something and why is it that you're saying it's only for refugees?'"

Mufarreh, who works as a taxi driver in Ottawa, went to Kuwait in December in a "desperate attempt" to help his wife meet the Jan. 16 application deadline, Gerami said.

She said hitting such a giant obstacle this late in the application process is devastating.

"When [Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada] says, 'Send in your passport,' this is the best part of the story for the client. That's it. Things are ready to move along," she said. "But in this instance, being a Bidun really made it, like a happy ending that just didn't, couldn't happen."

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada told CBC News it is looking into the family's case and aware of the Saturday deadline.

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