COVID travel restrictions have kept Calgary man and wife apart for past 6 months
CALGARY -- It's been more than six months since Bayan Missaghi last saw his wife in her home country of Pakistan.
“It's been incredibly difficult, incredibly painful for us,” said Missaghi.
Bayan and Rabbaniyyih Missaghi married April 12, 2019, and three months later, had applied for her permanent residency through the Canadian spousal sponsorship program.
Missaghi was born and raised in Canada and says he and his wife were informed that it would take up to one year for the process to be cleared by Immigration Canada, but he says they are now in limbo.
Missaghi believes the sponsorship program should be a high priority for the government, especially during the pandemic, so families can reunite.
“Mark this as an essential, important program and put financial resources into hiring more staff to try and churn our way through these applications,” said Missaghi.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says it received Rabbaniyyih's application last July and its currently in progress.
In a statement it adds that “due to the impacts of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we can’t process applications normally or provide accurate processing times.”
Bayan and Rabbaniyyih speak via Zoom twice a day.
She says it's been a trying time.
“This has been one of the hardest times I’ve ever had to endure and it's been really, really tough on us,” said Rabbaniyyih from Pakistan.
“I really, really miss him and can’t wait to be reunited and start our life together as a couple.”
Bayan works in the medical field in Calgary and is deemed an essential service worker.
Making any trip outside the country would be difficult.
He says prior to the pandemic, he could visit his wife when he had time off.
Immigration Canada says in June the government announced exemptions on travel restrictions for anyone who is visiting immediate family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents entering Canada — subject to the mandatory quarantine rules and a minimum 15 day stay — with a valid temporary resident visa or electronic travel authorization.
Bayan’s home is set up ready to welcome family, with pictures on the wall,but for the time being he is the only one living there.
Rabbaniyyih has not visited Canada, a country she soon hopes to call home.
The couple are unsure when they’ll see each other next.
“I’m going to give (her) the best and biggest hug and I’m never letting go,” said Bayan.
“We just want to be together, that’s all we’re asking for.”