The Canadian government has ordered a teenager living with family in Alberta to return to her native Hungary, a country where the girl says she has nowhere to go.
Kitti Toris is 16 years old and said she last had contact with her mother five years ago. She has lived with her older sister and brother-in-law since she was 6, and they and one of their lawyers say the couple are her legal guardians in Hungary and Canada. She moved to Canada from Europe in 2016, and the family expected the immigration process to be a breeze, given that Laszlo Radi, the brother-in-law Ms. Toris considers her father, is a Canadian citizen.
But Mr. Radi and his wife, Viktoria, are not Ms. Toris’s legal parents. The couple never adopted her, and the costly process could take years. Because Ms. Toris is not Mr. Radi’s daughter, he could not sponsor her immigration application, the family said. Ms. Toris applied for permanent residency, temporary residency and a study permit in an attempt to find a way to stay in Canada. This week, she received rejection letters related to the temporary residency and study permit applications, and orders to buy a non-refundable ticket out of Canada.
“I don’t really have anywhere to go back in Hungary,” Ms. Toris said in an interview on Friday. “I do think that the government just missed something or that there’s a gap in the system.”
Béatrice Fénelon, a spokeswoman for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), said in a statement the department could not comment, citing privacy laws. Ms. Toris’s permanent-residency application is still winding through Canada’s immigration office in Europe, according to Andréa de Rocquigny, an immigration lawyer with dRN Law LLP. Ms. Toris came to Canada on a visitor visa, Ms. de Rocquigny said, and remained after it expired while her three other immigration applications were processing. But now IRCC is demanding she leave. Ms. de Rocquigny intends on Monday to ask the federal court to step in.
In its letter, IRCC did not explain why it rejected Ms. Toris’s temporary-resident application.
“After a careful and sympathetic review it has been determined that there are insufficient grounds to merit the issuance of a permit for you and your application is hereby refused,” the letter said. A government official initialled the letter, but that person’s full name is absent.
Because IRCC rejected the temporary-resident application, Ms. Toris’s study permit application was turned down, too, because it was not made at a Canadian visa office outside the country. Ms. Toris applied for a study permit in Canada on the assumption her temporary-resident application would be approved and, with both approvals in hand, she could attend school, her lawyer said.
“You are now a person without status in Canada and as such, you are required to leave Canada forthwith,” the student-permit letter said. “Failure to do so could result in enforcement action being taken against you.”
Mr. Radi’s son is a Canadian citizen. Ms. Toris’s sister is a permanent resident. Ms. Toris could attend school without a study permit because education officials have leeway to make enrolment calls, her lawyer said.
Ms. Toris is in Grade 11 at Holy Trinity Academy in Okotoks, a bedroom community on Calgary’s southern edge. She wrote a social studies exam on Friday morning, before a teacher pulled her aside to ask how she is coping.
“I try to do my best and remain the same at school,” she said in an interview. “But when I’m home alone, I kind of just let everything go and cry a bit.”
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