Exclusive: Immigration Canada reverses decision, grants residency for family denied over child’s disability

In News by MIIC

Karissa Warkentin pictured with her daughter Karalynn. (Josh Arason/Global News)

Karissa Warkentin calls it the “best Christmas present ever.”

The Manitoba mother of five said she learned Tuesday that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has reversed its decision and approved the family’s application for permanent residency.

“We’re still kind of in shock – a little bit of disbelief. Like, are you sure this is it?” she told Global News.

Karissa and Jon Warkentin received national attention following a Global News investigation that exposed serious problems with the way Immigration Canada handles permanent residency applications for persons with disabilities.

The couple’s six-year-old daughter, Karalynn, was diagnosed with epilepsy a little more than a year after the family moved from Colorado to Canada to fulfill a life-long dream of running a hunting and fishing lodge they’d purchased.

Despite having invested more than $600,000 in the rural community of Waterhen, Man. — population 142 — and having the full support of their local school board, municipal council and the province, the family’s application for permanent residency was initially denied. The federal government said the cost of caring for Karalynn’s medical conditions would place “excessive demand” on Canada’s publicly funded health and social services.

But after a Global News profile of the family revealed potential problems with the government’s decision, Immigration Canada decided to reopen their case. The family was then allowed to submit new documents to the government — evidence that eventually led officials to reverse their decision.

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