October 14, 2016 - 11:20 AM
TORONTO - A Toronto woman who has spent the past two months stranded in Russia after having her permanent residency status revoked while abroad will soon be coming home.
Julia Yakobi's daughter says the federal government has reversed course on a previous decision and granted her the documents necessary to fly home from Moscow in the next few days.
Yakobi had flown to her native country in July, but found herself unable to return to Toronto when Citizenship and Immigration Canada denied her request for a travel document and revoked her permanent residency status.
CIC said she violated a residency requirement by only spending 65 days in Canada over the past five years, while Yakobi claimed she had lived in Toronto continuously since 2014.
CIC eventually agreed to revisit Yakobi's case and allow her to present more paperwork to support her claim to long-term residency.
Her daughter says the family complied by submitting a package of paperwork weighing 3.8 kilograms that ultimately led the government to overturn its decision.
"I can't find the words to say how happy I am that she's finally coming back where she belongs," Hannah Yakobi said in a telephone interview. "We've spent so much time. It's our mom... The last couple of months, all we've been doing is just waiting."
Julia Yakobi travelled to Moscow to seek medical advice in July with an expired permanent residency card, a move that Citizenship and Immigration Canada allows but does not recommend.
She applied for a travel document that would allow her to return to Canada, but was both denied the document and told she did not meet the criteria for permanent residency days before her scheduled flight home.
The family concedes that travelling with out-of-date documentation was unwise, but CIC's own guidelines make such arrangements possible.
"If you have been in Canada at least once during the past 365 days, you are entitled to a travel document to enable your return to Canada," reads a letter in which Yakobi's request for such a document was declined based on residency requirements.
CIC guidelines state that a person must spend at least 730 days in Canada during the five years prior to applying for a travel document. Yakobi said she had been in the country for more than 1,200 days, citing five years worth of tax returns, tenancy agreements, cellphone records and letters of employment as proof.
Hannah Yakobi said all those documents were submitted to CIC during the review process, adding the package also included bank records, medical records and logs of other appointments.
The ministry did not immediately respond to request for comment on the latest decision.
It did not previously explain how it determined that Yakobi had only been in the country for 65 days. A spokesman said the officer who denied her original request considered her documented dates of entry and exit, noting that her last shown entry to Canada was in June 2013.
Hannah Yakobi previously said the ministry's own information supported her mother's stance.
"The date of entry is in 2013, and the date of her exit was July 25, 2016, when she left for Moscow. How is that 65 days?" she said.
Hannah Yakobi said she and her family are grateful to CIC for revisiting the case, saying her mother had always attributed the situation to a simple clerical error.
She said her initial disappointment in the government has evaporated in light of their about-face, adding everyday Canadians have also been encouraging and supportive.
"This is the sixth country that I've lived in," she said. "I think this positive outcome wouldn't have happened in many countries around the world."
Hannah Yakobi said her mother is wrapping up loose ends in Moscow, such as terminating the lease of the apartment she had arranged to live in while her application was reviewed.
She said she is keenly looking forward to settling back into her Toronto condominium, jumping back into her teaching positions, and visiting with her daughters and grandchild as soon as possible.
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News from © The Canadian Press, 2016