THUNDER BAY — A man from Chile who lived, studied and worked in Thunder Bay before returning to South America has failed in his bid to come back to Canada to reside.
The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada's immigration appeal division says he spent too much time out of the country, and thereby breached the residency obligation for permanent residency.
In its decision, it also cites the best interests of the man's children.
The 43-year-old Chilean national immigrated to Canada in 2009 and stayed for a year.
During that time he lived in Montreal.
After his marriage crumbled, he and his wife returned to Chile for a divorce.
He remarried there, and he and his new wife had a child in 2013.
In 2015, the man came back to Canada, this time to Thunder Bay, along with his family.
Fourteen months later, he again went back to Chile, and has not been in Canada since.
In 2021, the man – who now had two children – applied to return here, but was denied on the basis of a regulation that maintaining permanent residency status requires a physical presence in Canada for at least 730 days out of every five years.
He had spent only 21 days in Canada during that period.
At the appeal hearing, he acknowledged the breach but asked that his appeal be allowed on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
"The appellant has some establishment in Canada, and he has a brother who lives in Vancouver," an IRBC panel member said in the decision. "However, his reasons for not meeting his residency obligation are not compelling."
She noted that the man did not come back to Canada at the earliest opportunity, and that limited hardship would result for either him or his brother if he were unable to live in Canada.
The panel member also concluded "His minor children's best interests are best met by him remaining in Chile with them as an intact family unit."
She said the appellant "has family , including his wife, two sons, siblings, and his parents in Chile. He owns a home and has a job. I see limited hardship...if he lost his permanent residency status."
Neither the man's wife nor his children have status in Canada.
He stated that if his appeal were allowed, he would return to Canada and sponsor his family from here.
Noting that it was unclear whether those immigration applications would ensure the family remained together, the panel member said young children do best "with physical access to two loving parents."
She added that the children enjoy a stable and caring home situation, and see extended family members often.
"I conclude it is in these children's best interests for their status quo to be maintained."
In denying the appeal, she said that while she had little doubt the man would contribute to Canada, there were insufficient humanitarian and compassionate grounds to weigh against his prolonged absence from the country.