Heavily reliant on charity and the goodwill of friends and neighbours, American mother Heidi Roggero and her five Canadian children are mired in a precarious situation. Roggero became divorced from her Canadian husband in 2009 and, as a foreign national, is no longer entitled to live in Canada because her temporary resident permit expired in 2010. This effectively precludes her from acquiring a Canada work permit and makes it difficult for her to support her young family. Moreover, because Roggero’s husband shares joint custody over their children, she is prohibited by Canadian authorities from returning to the United States unless she either kidnaps or abandons them.
During the course of their marriage, Roggero’s husband neglected to sign the papers that would have made her a permanent resident of Canada through the federal government’s Family Sponsorship program. He is almost $33,000 behind in payments to the family’s court-ordered financial support, a commitment that he also would have been required to accept under the Family Sponsorship Program.
As Roggero is neither permanent resident of Canada nor a citizen, she is not entitled to welfare or assisted housing. She laments that women in similar situations often engage in prostitution to provide for their families’ basic necessities.
Roggero has the option of legally residing in Canada if she applies for refugee status under Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds, however the US citizen is hesitant and fearful of deportation by Canadian immigration authorities. These applications can also take a long time—up to two years—for Citizenship and Immigration Canada to process. If she is expatriated back to her home-country, a supplementary option would be to apply under one of CIC’s other immigration categories such as one of British Colombia’s Provincial Nomination Programs or through the Federal Skilled Worker Program in the future, provided that her qualifications meet the criteria and that the quotas for those programs are not breached at the time of her application.
For more information about Canadian immigration options such as the Family Sponsorship Program, please consult FWCanada’s website.