September 6, 2017 5:56 pm
Updated: September 19, 2017 3:13 pm

Immigration Canada reopens Manitoba family’s application for permanent residency

WATCH: Immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke explains why he believes the government reversed its decision and reopened the case of Jon and Karissa Warkentin, a family whose application for permanent residency was denied due to their daughter's disability.

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Following a Global News investigation looking into problems with Canada’s immigration system, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has reopened the case of Jon and Karissa Warkentin – a family from Waterhen, Manitoba – whose application for permanent residency was denied because their six-year-old daughter, Karalynn, has developmental delay.

The decision to reopen the family’s case comes after more than a month of back and forth between the Department of Justice, which represents Immigration Canada in legal matters, and the family’s lawyer, Alastair Clarke.

WATCH: Family in ‘shock’ after permanent residency denied by Immigration Canada due to daughter’s disability


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Clarke said the decision by Immigration Canada to overturn its earlier ruling – which would have seen the Warkentins and their four children sent back to the United States once their temporary working visas expire in November – is a direct result of public pressure and attention placed upon the government following Global News’ in-depth look into the family’s situation.

“We received notification today from [Immigration Canada] that they have reversed their decision and reopened the Warkentin application,” said Clarke, who argued the government overlooked important information and relied on unfounded medical diagnoses when initially denying the family’s application. “We have been working on this file for a long time and thank you to Global News for all the coverage in addition to all the public support.”

Family feels renewed sense of hope

Jon and Karissa said Wednesday they were overwhelmed with emotion after hearing that Immigration Canada would reopen their case.

“We are very, very relieved and excited,” Karissa said, adding that she hasn’t yet told her children who are in school. “It gives us a renewed sense of hope that this is going to work and we are going to be able to stay.”

“It’s just been a test of our perseverance, our patience and our determination,” she said.

WATCH: Canada rejects hundreds of immigrants based on incomplete data, Global News investigation finds

Karissa said her family was stunned by the “outpouring of compassion and concern” expressed by Canadians from across the country when Global News first profiled their story. She says the experience has been filled with ups and downs, but knowing so many people cared about their situation made them feel much better.

“It really renews your faith in humanity,” Karissa said. “People that we have never met before. And their willingness to say, ‘This isn’t right and what can I do to help and who do I contact?’”

Parents of five children, Jon and Karissa say they’ll now focus on resubmitting the necessary information on their daughter’s medical condition with the hope the government will then allow them to stay.

READ MORE: Immigration Canada ‘breaking the law,’ when denying some disabled applicants, say legal experts

They also hope Immigration Canada changes the way it reviews cases involving children with disabilities.

“It’s a victory and it’s very exciting, but it doesn’t mean it’s over,” said Karissa. “The government needs to understand how much it’s made people question the authenticity of the [public perception] that we are a welcoming country.”

Clarke, meanwhile, says the family will travel to Winnipeg where they’ll work with a pediatrician to complete the forms and ensure their application is a success.

“This was the right decision. This was the decision that they should have made earlier,” he said. “The family has unfortunately been through quite a stressful experience, but this is definitely the right decision.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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