West Kelowna couple Wendy Porteous Scorgie and Jim Scorgie are feeling hopeless after their Syrian friend, Marwa Saffaf, was denied a temporary Canadian resident visa for the second time.
In February, Capital News told the story of Marwa, her husband and three young boys who are currently living in Aleppo.
Marwa’s family is confined to their house most days and she has heard the sound of explosions near their neighbourhood. The situation is continuing to get worse, according to Wendy and Jim.
Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas confirmed he has been working with Wendy and Jim in an interview last month. Albas said he is doing what he can to help the couple assist their friend in obtaining a successful visitor application.
“I haven’t had any direct contact with the (Syrian) family themselves; I’ve been trying to offer advice and assistance, or at least present options, to the Scorgie family so they can have a visit with their friend,” said Albas.
Marwa’s initial visa application was rejected Jan. 28.
On March 11 Marwa travelled to Beirut to submit her second application. According to Wendy and Jim, she spent the last several weeks acquiring 12 letters from doctors, lawyers, school inspectors and friends who spoke about Marwa’s character and her business and family ties to Aleppo.
The suggestion to acquire letters was advice Wendy and Jim received from Albas.
They also applied for a shorter three-month visa; the first application was for a 12-month stay in Canada.
Marwa received a rejection letter two days later.
An officer of Citizen and Immigration Canada stated that he/she was still not satisfied Marwa’s family would leave Canada at the end of their stay.
“Marwa came on Skype and she was crying so much that it was hard to hear her,” said Wendy.
“She did exactly what our MP suggested: Apply for a shorter length visa and (she) had many letters from people saying that she has many ties to Syria.”
She added Marwa would like to be able to return to Syria, but admits, “Whether it could be after a temporary visa, at this point, who knows.”
Albas said, other than offering advice, there is little he can do. He noted it’s important that issues such as these remain “an arm’s length process.”
“We want to make sure we follow the rule of the law—that’s why we hire independent immigration officers, to vet those applications and to approve or not approve,” said Albas.