On his deathbed in a hospital in Egypt, Amr Abogabal was anxious about one thing in particular: He kept reminding his wife and daughters not to miss the expiry date on their Canadian immigration visas.
The family had been approved to come to Canada under the investor immigration program and issued papers to that effect in 2013. His heart attack last April came as they were preparing for the big move.
What they didn’t know was that their hopes for a new life in Canada hinged on the survival of Abogabal, an oil company accountant, who had made a $120,000 deposit in 2011 to qualify.
Abogabal died in April 2014, and his wife and daughters have been denied permanent residency status and lost most of their hefty deposit. They are now embroiled in a bitter battle with the National Bank of Canada to get it back.
“My father invested the money in Canada so we could get our immigration status,” Abogabal’s older daughter, Khadiga Abogabal, told the Star. “They’ve had our money since 2011. Now, they refused to give us status or a full refund.
Khadiga Abogabal said her father and mother, Omaima Ibrahim, 51, began the investor’s application process in 2010 and wired $120,000 to the National Bank the following year.
In August 2013, they received their visas, which remained valid until July 20, 2014. She said her father had a heart attack on April 21, 2014, and spent 27 days in intensive care before he died.
“When he was awake, he’d scribble and remind us to go to Canada before the (visa’s) expiry date. We’d actually booked our plane tickets in March (2014), before my father went into hospital,” said Khadiga, 26, a university graduate who worked as a pharmacist in Egypt.
Khadiga, her sister, Fatma, 20, and their mother arrived here on July 10 as planned but officials refused to issue them permanent residency after they revealed that the elder Abogabal had died.
In September, immigration officials issued an exclusion order and ordered them to leave Canada immediately. Her mother and sister flew back to Cairo in October, but Khadiga insisted on staying until the family gets their money back.
After months of negotiations, the family said, they were told they’d get a refund of just $41,000 — an offer the three women, now left with nothing but a house in Cairo, rejected.
“We trusted Canada and we paid the money before receiving the visas two years later,” Khadiga said. “After that, the bank told us the refund would be $41,000. Where is the other $80,000? Where is the justice?”
Citizenship and Immigration Canada confirmed the family’s story but said officials’ hands are tied and they must follow the law.