11/21/2012 06:21 EST | Updated 01/21/2013 05:12 EST

Moroccan Family Can Stay Despite Cancelled Visas


Canada's immigration minister will allow a Moroccan family to stay in the country despite their visas being revoked a day before arriving in Montreal.

Rachida Iblihi, a mother of two, had been waiting since Nov. 17 to hear about her family's fate after she and her children moved from Morocco to Montreal.

Both Iblihi and her husband applied to immigrate under Canada's Federal Skilled Worker Program – a program the Conservative government amended in June.

Iblihi and her husband sold everything they owned and she quit her job as a chemical lab technician to move to Canada. Her husband was set to arrive in Montreal in three weeks, after he finished training a new employee taking over position as a logistics manager.

Iblihi was thrilled to hear the Immigration Minister Jason Kenney had granted her family permission to stay in Canada.

"[He] made my dream come true," she said. "Now, I can start my life the way I want to."

Kenney said about 50 people received visas that shouldn't have.

"[They] were issued erroneously, so I've looked into the matter and it appears … apparently there were about 50 of those applications that should have been returned but where visas were issued as a result of an information technology error," he said.

The error happened while his ministry was making changes to its technology system.

'I left everything behind'

"I left everything behind to find a good future for my children," said Iblihi, in an interview Wednesday morning before hearing about the minister's decision.

She and her two children, aged one and six, moved to Canada following a five year-long process.

Iblihi said she was told by an immigration officer at Montreal's Trudeau airport that her family's visas was given out by mistake and had been revoked by Immigration Canada.

"I started crying alone. I left everything, I can't go back," she said.

Not the 1st case

Nadia Barrou, the family's lawyer who oversaw the entire immigration process, said she received an email informing her of Immigration Canada's decision to revoke the visas on Nov. 16, the day before Iblihi and her two children were to leave for Montreal.

She said she was not aware of the message until Nov. 17, but by that time Iblihi was on a plane to Canada.

Barrou said the email indicated the visas were issued by mistake.

The so called "new rules" are part of a sweeping bill passed by Canada's Conservative government in June.

In an attempt to streamline its immigration laws, the government introduced new language and skills guidelines in omnibus Bill C-38, to help fill gaps in Canada's workforce.

Potential immigrants who applied under the Federal Skilled Worker Program before Feb. 27, 2008, and were not approved by the end of March 2012, had their files closed.

The bill, also known as the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act, eliminated a backlog of 280,000 applications for visas filed before 2008 that had not be processed.

"The important thing is to fix the mistake," said Barrou, who had threatened to file a lawsuit against the government to cover the Moroccan family's damages.

A group of lawyers in Toronto are planning to file class-action lawsuits against the government on behalf of people whose applications were rejected.

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