08 April 2010

Ottawa imam receives new Canadian visa after intervention

The imam of Ottawa’s main mosque will be able to see out his appointment, thanks to an intervention from Conservative and NDP ministers.

Canada Immigration

The chief government whip was able to help resolve a Canadian visa issue for an Ottawa imam.

Khaled Abdul-Hamid Syed received his new Canadian Visa on Wednesday, just shy of a month after a letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada informed him his application to extend his work permit had been denied and he would have to return home to apply for another.

The decision by Canadian Immigration was due to a mix up with paperwork, and later corrected.

Khaled had been sent to Canada by Egypt's Department of Religious Affairs, which pays his salary, after mosque leaders could not find a suitable Canadian candidate in 2008, however a few Ottawa Muslim Association (OMA) directors wanted to keep trying for a Canadian imam, and they sent a letter to the Egyptian Embassy stating they did not want to keep Khaled in Canada.

This led to the rejection of Khaled's first application for an extension, which had been submitted well before his Canadian Visa expired.

When Khaled sent a second application with letters from the OMA and the Egyptian embassy confirming his appointment his visa had expired and Canadian immigration officials told him he would have to leave Canada before he could reapply.

"I was told that this decision was made because my application was received after the expiration of my visa, which is contrary to the facts," Khaled wrote in a letter to Gordon O'Connor, the Conservative MP for Carleton-Mississippi Mills and the chief government whip.

"The follow-up request was just a clarification for the record, which was misunderstood by the (immigration) officer."

Gordon O'Connor has been credited with getting the problem resolved, and the new Canadian Visa will see Khaled through to the end of his appointment in July 2011.

The Canadian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their Canadian Visa applications with the Canadian Embassy.   

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