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Suncor engineer frustrated by spousal sponsorship snag

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Troy Shantz

Coming to Canada was a dream come true for 34-year-old Maryam Zargarzadeh, but getting her husband here from Iran is turning into a nightmare.

The Sarnia resident, who works as an engineer at Suncor Energy, has encountered roadblock after roadblock after getting married last spring. No one at any level of government has been able to explain why her husband can’t join her in Canada, she said.

Originally from Iran, Zargarzadeh came to Canada to study at the University of Alberta in 2008. She has held several high-level positions, including the current job at Suncor.

She and her husband were married in May of 2016 and the paperwork quickly filed to bring him to Canada.

Such applications can take eight months, according to the Canadian government website. But it has been more than a year now with no resolution in sight, despite letters sent to the prime minister, immigration minister and Governor General.

“They don’t disclose anything about it for anyone,” she said, showing correspondence from Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu that confirmed her husband’s file is still in the screening process.

“Even until the end of the process, we won’t know.”

Zargarzadeh and her husband were eligible for nearly $7,500 in relocation support, language training and spousal assistance from her employer, but most of that has since expired, she said.

Her husband cannot be added to her employee benefits because they don’t cover people living overseas.

“These are all financial losses, but more important is the relationship loss, the family loss and the time I’m missing to … have children,” she said. “I’m already 34.”

MP Marilyn Gladu said she couldn’t comment on Zargarzadeh’s case for privacy reasons. But in general, such applications are impact by various factors and can take up to three years, she said.

“I would say in general people are experiencing delays throughout the immigration system, but especially in areas where there’s more security scrutiny,” she said.

Until recently, Canada maintained economic sanctions against Iran, Gladhu noted.

“Certainly countries like Iran go through more scrutiny than other countries.”

Zargarzadeh said her husband does not have a criminal record and no political or activist affiliations that would complicate things.

“I’m a professional, a citizen of Canada. I’m not going to get married to someone who’s problematic,” she said. “He’s not political, he’s a quiet person.”

She added she is one of group of about 30, mostly Iranian, women who are gainfully employed and trying unsuccessfully to reunite with their spouses.

They hope to lobby several Iranian-Canadian MPs this summer to further their cause and get answers, she said.




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