For the last two years, the only contact Trevor Butler has had with his wife Marie has been over the phone.
The couple was separated after she travelled to St. Lucia to visit family. Her immigration status meant she wasn’t allowed to return home.
“She’s frustrated,” Butler said. “She wants to get back here.”
Trevor and Marie were married 12 years ago in the Lower Mainland. They never filed an application for permanent residency. She came to the country legally, initially working as a care aid, but the rules changed while living in Canada.
They didn’t realize it would be an issue until Marie returned to St. Lucia.
While she has been stranded in the Caribbean island nation, Trevor was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. They have been unable to get humanitarian leave to bring Marie home.
Abbotsford MP Ed Fast flagged their story to the immigration minister after a Global News report last December.
There seemed to be some movement as she was able to file paperwork.
Two months later, though, Butler says there has been no progress.
After checking with officials in St. Lucia, Marie learned the authority for temporary residency permits lies entirely with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
“They have my passport, all my documents, and all I can do is wait,” Marie said. “I’ve checked here, and they told me it has to be dealt with in Canada.”
Immigration lawyers say there are options to reunite the couple.
“There is an option for immigration to allow someone to come on humanitarian grounds,” lawyer Laura Best says. “There is an option for them to speed up the processing.”
Meanwhile, Marie says time is of the essence.
“I think I know him well enough to know he is really struggling with some things, he just won’t admit it,” she said. “I desperately need to be with my husband.”
Global News has reached out to IRCC for comment.