11/15/2012 03:48 EST | Updated 01/15/2013 05:12 EST

Woman who was deported to U.S. can return to Canada to care for friend: lawyer

HALIFAX - An American woman who was deported to the United States said she was relieved after hearing she would be allowed to return to Canada to continue caring for her ailing 83-year-old friend.

"I really am happy for the both of us," said Nancy Inferrera, 73, in an interview Thursday from her hotel in Maine.

"What is a friend if you're going to leave them when they need you the most?"

Inferrera left Canada on Wednesday with Mildred Sanford after the federal government rejected her repeated applications to stay in the country. The pair were living together in a trailer park in northeastern Nova Scotia before Inferrera was deported.

But on Thursday her lawyer said he received word from the federal Immigration Department that Inferrera could return to Canada on a temporary residency permit that allows her to stay for three years.

"The Immigration Department has taken a closer look at the humanitarian nature of the situation," Lee Cohen said.

"They believe this is a situation that warrants exercising humanitarian discretion."

Inferrera said she came to Nova Scotia in 2008 to live with and take care of Sanford. She said Sanford's health and memory are failing, and she was worried over whether her friend would be eligible for health care coverage in the U.S.

Cohen said when he called the women to deliver the news, they were jubilant.

"I can't explain to you how loudly they screamed," he said.

Cohen said he will pick up the women and bring them back to their home in Guysborough, N.S.

A spokeswoman from the Immigration Department said she could not confirm the government's decision to grant Inferrera a temporary residency permit without the woman's written consent.