Immigration paperwork interrupts 'happily ever after' for Harvey couple

Immigration paperwork interrupts 'happily ever after' for Harvey couple

Love knows no bounds — except maybe if Citizenship and Immigration Canada is involved. 

Matthew Clark has been trying to get a work permit and permanent resident status since he and his wife, Katherine, were married in 2015.

But instead of making progress down that road, Clark is about to fly home to the United Kingdom because, he says, of a glitch in his paperwork.

And there's no guarantee the Harvey resident will be able to return to Canada.

Clark, a former physical education teacher, started running into obstacles last year when his application for a work permit was returned to him. He'd forgotten to sign one of the many documents required by Canada's Department of Immigration.

"My opinion of Canada isn't exactly great at the moment," said the frustrated Clark, who had looked forward to married life in Canada, away from the large crowds of the U.K.

"The place itself is beautiful but the way … it's run I just can't believe some of the stuff that's happening."

Clark, who met his wife teaching in Britain a few years ago, sent off his application for a work permit in December 2015.

He didn't hear from anyone until the end of January 2016, when a form came back highlighting a signature line he overlooked in the pile of paperwork, bank statements and photographs required as proof of the couple's relationship.

"The document was like a novel," he said during an interview with Information Morning Fredericton. 

That same day, Clark sent back the paperwork with the proper signature, only to see it bounce back again in March.

'It messes with people's lives'

Then, Clark said, he received a notice from Immigration saying there was a form he didn't fill in that asked for additional family information. He said the department also asked for an additional payment for a work permit. 

Clark contacted Karen Ludwig, the member of Parliament for New Brunswick Southwest, whose office contacted the Immigration Department. 

That's when Clark learned his application had been accepted and he would be getting a work permit by the end of July.

Two weeks into August, he called Ludwig's office again and was told was given the wrong information. There would be no work permit.

"It's not even the permanent residency that's the biggest issue here," Clark said. "I just want to be able to work."

The Immigration Department said it could not comment on a specific case without a person's signed consent. CBC tried for a comment from Ludwig's office, which said it is working on a response. 

"It was just an ongoing battle from August until now," he said. "The information I've been given from the CIC has been nothing but appalling.

"You have Prime Minister Trudeau constantly saying in the media, 'Canada is a diverse country, Canada needs immigrants to boost its economy,' but you have an immigration system in place that is there to catch people out, instead of helping them," he said.

With his visa running out, Clark has already bought his plane ticket home and leaves March 26. While there, he'll visit family and hopes to return to Canada on April 13, the day his return ticket is dated.

But he isn't so sure.

"Essentially I've been red-flagged," Clark said.

"They [government officials] prefer you to be in the country being a burden on society, instead of contributing to society," he said. "It messes with people's lives."