MONTREAL — Canada’s crackdown on immigration fraud has unwittingly snared a Portuguese man living in the country for 32 years who said on Tuesday he is being deported over an administrative gaffe.
Married to a Canadian woman, Jose Pereira had four children and several grandchildren in Canada and has never committed a crime.
Public broadcaster Radio-Canada said his permanent residency card expired two years ago during a trip abroad and a replacement was not processed because Pereira did not reply to a letter asking for more information.
The letter had been mailed to him in Portugal, where he had been visiting his sick father, but Pereira had already returned to Canada by the time it arrived.
It wasn’t until this year, when he applied for Canadian citizenship, that he learned of the letter and the consequences of not replying: deportation for alleged “immigration fraud.”
After having spent 32 of his 58 years in Canada, he must now sell his house in Saint-Roch-de-Richelieu, Quebec, northeast of Montreal, and return to his birth country with his wife in the coming weeks.
“They’re kicking me out and treating me like a criminal, it makes no sense,” he told Radio-Canada.
According to Canadian immigration lawyer Stephane Handfield, Pereira did not abuse the system, but rather thought he was following all the rules.