Robert Blatchford just wants his husband to be able to visit him in Canada while he tends to his terminally ill mother in Kelowna.
But Blatchford, a licenced practical nurse who is Canadian but who lived in Brazil with his Brazilian common-law partner prior to returning home in December to look after his mom, says his husband Rafael has been unsuccessful in getting a visitor’s visa from the Canadian government.
And he’s upset his local MP won’t help him by writing a letter of support.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Blatchford, who said he approached Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola MP Dan Albas after being advised to do so by an immigration consultant he’s working with in Vancouver.
“I just want my hubby here before my mom passes away,” said Blatchford, adding Rafael would not stay in Canada illegally after the visitor’s visa expires. “We would never do anything illegal.”
Blatchford said he plans to return to Brazil to live after his mom passes away as he is allowed to live in the country.
He said it has not been made clear to him why Rafael’s visa application was rejected by Canadian immigration officials in the first place. On the advice of the immigration consultant, he is seeking documentation from Immigration Canada that may explain why.
But he is angry Albas refused to help him by providing a letter of support.
Albas told the Capital News he could not talk about specific constituent situations because of confidentiality—despite Blatchford going public with his appeal and saying he would be okay with the MP speaking about his case.
Albas said he does not write letters of support for anyone in immigration cases. Instead, he said, his office offers information on the process and advice about what to do when dealing with immigration applications and how to make an application better.
He said he has been told by immigration officials that letters of support from MP’s do not do any good.
Instead, he says Blatchford should get letters of support from people who know him personally, or local officials like a mayors, doctors or a judge.
The local MP did say, however, that he does talk to the federal immigration minister from time to time to make him aware of how his constituents feel the system is working. And he confirmed he did that in Blatchford’s case.
But according to Albas, neither an MP nor the minister can overrule a Canadian immigration official once a ruling has been made about a person’s admissibility to Canada.
“That rule is there for a reason,” he said. “To stop political interference.”
But Blatchford said he is not asking Albas to intercede on his behalf, just to write a letter of support for a constituent.
He said he also contacted Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr’s office and was told he had to deal with Albas as he is Blatchford’s MP. Blatchford lives in West Kelowna.
Once the provincial election is over, he said he plans to approach Christy Clark, if she is still his MLA and the premier for help, even though he realizes immigration is a federal matter.
“I’m just looking for somebody to help me,” he said.
Blatchford said he is disappointed his MP won’t support his effort to get a visitor’s visa for his husband.
For his part, Albas said he is sympathetic and situations like this can be difficult when family members cannot come to Canada. But, he said his hands are tied.
Blatchford has also written to interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose asking her to talk to Albas about writing the letter of support.
In the meantime, he said it’s been difficult dealing with his mother’s illness, being out of work until recently, sending money back to Brazil and not seeing his husband.
“It’s been very difficult and I thought my MP would be able to help,” said Blatchford.
The West Kelowna man originally went to Brazil to teach English in the early 2000s and met Rafael 3 1/2 years ago. They are considered to be in what Brazil calls a “stable union,” akin to common law marriage in Canada.
Prior to her terminal diagnosis, Blatchford’s mom visited the pair in Brazil and got to know Rafael. So, Blatchford said it’s important to Rafael to be able to say good bye to his mother-in-law.
Blatchford last saw his husband, in person, in December, before he returned to Canada to be with his mom.
Since then, the pair have only been able to communicate via video link over the internet.