Montrealers protest closure of Canadian immigration office in Havana, Cuba
All Hélène Vachon wants is to have her stepdaughters move to Montreal to join her and her husband.
“It’s become a waste of time and money and energy and it’s… ” she says before trailing off, sighing.
Vachon was one of many who joined a protest in Montreal Saturday against the closure of the immigration office at the Canadian embassy in Havana, Cuba. Staffing was reduced in the wake of a mysterious illness that has affected more than a dozen diplomats and their families.
Staff tweeted May 8th that they will no longer take applications for visitor visas and study/work permits, or conduct permanent residence interviews. Services including fingerprinting and medical exams now have to be done outside Cuba, and families like Vachon and her stepdaughters are stuck.
“We cannot tell them, ‘Ok, go to this country and do that and come back to Cuba,’” she fumes. “We cannot do that — they are minors!”
One’s 15 years old, the other 17, so she or her husband need to travel to Cuba to accompany them to another country like Trinidad and Tobago, and not just once.
“One time for the biometrical (fingerprinting and photography), and one time for the medical exam,” Vachon explains. “That means taking time off work.”
Each time she does, she tells Global News, it amounts to a $5,000 expense, and means the teens’ move to Canada will likely be delayed