Saskatoon

Saskatoon couple wins appeal; hopes to get adopted son from Pakistan soon

A Saskatoon couple has won an appeal and hopes to soon be able to bring their adopted son home to Saskatoon from Pakistan.

Immigration and Refugee Board rules in the couple's favour

Waheeda Afridi poses next to her adoptive son, Ajjab. (Courtesy of Haidah Amirzadeh)

A Saskatoon couple has won an appeal and hopes to soon be able to bring home their adopted son from Pakistan.

Waheeda and Ashfaq Afridi have been trying to get their little boy to Canada since he was born four years ago.

The family's lawyer, Haidah Amirzadeh says the appeal division of the Immigration and Refugee Board ruled in the couple's favour earlier this week.

Ashfaq Afridi holds a photo of his adoptive son, Ajjab. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)
She said the board has allowed the Afridis' appeal of the sponsorship visa for permanent residency. This means that the officer from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, who initially denied the application, must continue to process the application again.

Amirzadeh told CBC News that this ruling is still subject to a judicial review, which would prolong the process, but she said she is doubtful that will happen.

Waheeda has been waiting with the boy, Ajjab, in Pakistan during the lengthy legal process.

She told her lawyer she is excited by the news, but won't believe it's real until she and her son arrive at the Saskatoon airport.

However, Amirzadeh said the family does not know how soon this will be and it could still be a very long time before Waheeda and Ajjab are able to come to Saskatoon.

A tedious waiting game

Amirzadeh told CBC News that although the ruling from the independent federal board is a big victory, things for the Afridis are still very uncertain.

In June of 2014, Ashfaq expected his toddler and wife would be home in Saskatoon by the end of the month.

Waheeda Afridi with her son, Ajjab. (Courtesy of Haidah Amirzadeh)
However, according to Amirzadeh, even though the province issued a letter of no objection on June 4, 2014, the federal government chose not to immediately consent to the sponsorship appeal and instead made the Afridis' sponsorship application for Ajjab's permanent residency wait until the hearing date of October 1, 2014.  

Amirzadeh said this resulted in four months of lost time for the Afridi family while the application stayed in closed status at the Canadian embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Throughout the lengthy process, Ashfaq has been separated from his wife. He was only able to make contact with her through the occasional phone call and Skype session at odd hours.

Amirzadeh said the four-year-long process has been incredibly hard on the family. Especially as the area of Pakistan, where Waheeda and Ajjab reside, is very dangerous.

"They're living in an area where they are under red alert all the time," Amirzadeh said. "So, she is basically stuck with this little boy all the time in a basement because they have to take shelter from a potential bombing."

Before progress on the case was announced by the province in June, Ashfaq told CBC News he was considering moving back to Pakistan to be with his wife and child; even though he and Waheeda are both Canadian citizens.

Amirzadeh said Waheeda is afraid she will not make it home alive with her adoptive son.

"She was just telling me, 'Haidah, I don't want to die here now that everything has gone through.' She is worried she will not even make it out," Amirzadeh said.

The Canadian Press

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