Immigration | Blocked by “a machine”

Belgian Colette de Troy tries unsuccessfully to obtain a travel authorization to come visit her friends in Montreal

In immigration, there are sometimes dramatic situations. But there are also Kafkaesque stories, which help illustrate the incoherence of the Canadian reception system. The story of Colette de Troy is one of them.

This 73-year-old Belgian is trying without success to obtain an electronic travel authorization (eTA) to come see her “old friends” in Montreal. A formality which is usually resolved within a few hours, for countries exempt from the visa requirement to enter Canada, such as France and Belgium. But in his case, it’s been going on for weeks. She was unable to take off as planned on March 12. His plane ticket? “Fucked.” »

Mme de Troy is nevertheless a regular in Quebec. She lived here for five years, from 1978 to 1983, and was granted permanent residency. She worked for the University of Montreal, first in research, then in the faculty of continuing education. Since her return to Brussels, she has come to Montreal a few times for short stays. The last time was in 2014.

“At the time, you didn’t need an eTA,” she explains in a telephone interview. “All you had to do was present yourself with your Belgian passport at the border. And bang, they put a stamp, and that’s it. So I never had any problems. »

Mme from Troy applied for an eTA online on February 26. She received a first email confirming receipt. “Then, another message saying that I would have to send additional documents,” she said: “passport photo, waiver of my permanent residence form, etc..” From there, it was Kafka! »

Twice, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) asked him to return the forms, without providing him with any explanations. After searching, she realized that her photo was not in the right format: JPEG. But about the waiver form, she doesn’t know.

“They don’t say what’s wrong. They just ask you to send the form back,” she explains.

Result, it blocks. And no way to speak to an official.

Mme de Troy claims to have tried everything: “I’m trying to have contacts here at the Canadian embassy in Brussels, it’s absolutely impossible. I was greeted by security guards who told me that everything related to visas was processed at the Canadian embassy in Paris. I tried to call the Paris embassy, ​​it’s not possible either when you’re not Canadian. And for the rest, they link back to the site… So, we’re biting our tails. »

Her friends from Montreal also wrote to their MP to try to get things moving. In vain.

“I still find it scandalous to refuse me entry,” exclaims of Troy. It is also my right to visit Quebec. I have everything I need. There, I am blocked by a machine. I never had any notion that there might be anyone (behind the machine). I’m almost traumatized. Fighting with a machine is horrible. The crazy thing is that there isn’t a phone number, even an email, to contact anyone. »

Neither traveler nor resident

In response to questions from The PressImmigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced that Mme of Troy is not eligible for an eTA “as a permanent resident”.

“IRCC offered her the options of renouncing her permanent resident status and moving forward with her eTA application or maintaining her permanent resident status and traveling to Canada as a permanent resident of Canada,” indicates -we. To do this, she would either need a permanent resident card, (or) submit an application for a permanent resident travel document (PRTV). Mme of Troy submitted an incomplete application to renounce her permanent resident status on March 7, 2024. Form IMM5782 and passport-sized photos were missing. A letter explaining the steps to follow was sent to him on March 13, 2024. IRCC is awaiting a full response from of Troy. »

In other words, Mme Troy cannot apply for an eTA because this procedure is for foreigners. But her permanent resident status is void since she no longer resides in Canada. You must in fact have been present in the territory for at least 730 days in the last five years to maintain this status, according to the IRCC website. Which she did not do because she has lived in Belgium for 41 years.

“I do quite well with computers,” she says. Let’s imagine someone who isn’t doing so well, it’s impossible. Or, you have to ask for the help of an immigration advisor to make a three-week trip! I find it terrible. »


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