Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Dutch man, 94, facing unwanted trip home can stay in B.C. with wife of 45 years

Immigration offices cuts red tape so couple of 45 years can stay together in Victoria area

After more than 40 years in the country and a season of sleepless nights, 94-year-old Thomas Schouten can remain in Canada with his family.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has cut a tangle of unexpected bureaucratic red tape that threatened to return him to Holland and confirmed the Greater Victoria-area man’s permanent residency.

Schouten lives in a Cadboro Bay house with his wife Francina Mettes, 83, a lifelong Canadian, and her family, including grandkids. The two have been together since 1975. Until two years ago, they traveled back and forth between Europe and Canada, as well as to destinations around the world.

Schouten’s temporary permit would have ended in two months, Mettes said, and the two were preparing to move him back to the Netherlands, causing all kinds of panic about traveling amid the pandemic. Mettes was preparing to go with him.

READ ALSO: Immigration rules could put 94-year-old on plane home to Netherlands

“We really were worried. But now, no more sleepless nights. It was really hard. Now we are settled, [it’s] much better. Life can go on now,” said Mettes, speaking on behalf of her husband, who communicates in Dutch.

It finalizes the immigration process they started years ago and which was moving along normally until September when they were required to file a 76-year history for Schouten. The request asked for Schouten’s addresses, work and travel histories since he was 18 in 1944, as well as military records and periods of unemployment.

As Schouten’s sponsor, Mettes was required to file a history of her travels and her residential addresses dating back to her 18th birthday. And it was all due within two weeks, a deadline they did not meet.

They had nothing on hand to prove their whereabouts previous to 2010, let alone the 1960s and 1950s, Mettes said.

“Remembering all our travel for those years, it was really hard to do. We tried our best.”

The two hired local immigration agent, Zaphera Dewing.

“We did what we could but by no means could comply with the request, we submitted on Nov. 2,” Dewing said.

When they got the recent email from Dewing saying congratulations, Mettes and Schouten felt relief.

“‘Oh God, at last,’ we said. It took [Dewing] a lot of work,” Mettes said. “Now we can sleep.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

READ ALSO: Decision to deport former owner of Sooke Harbour House put on hold

reporter@oakbaynews.com

Just Posted

Erin Jackson, the city’s director of corporate services, was appointed acting chief administrative officer for the City of Salmon Arm on June 15, 2021. (Photo contributed)
City of Salmon Arm appoints acting chief administrative officer

Heads of two city department to temporarily fill empty CAO position

The old Dirty Dirt Farm Co-op sign now hangs in the forest behind one of the cabins. (Jim Cooperman photo)
Column: The saga of the Dirty Dirt Farm Co-op

Shuswap Passion by Jim Cooperman

Brook Kosick competes in the barrel racing event at a BC High School Rodeo Association rodeo in Quesnel, which was held from June 11-13, 2021. (Cassidy Dankochik - Black Press)
VIDEO: 14-year-old Salmon Arm rodeo athlete Brook Kosick competes at provincial level

Quesnel rodeo on June 11-13 was first of season for Kosick, who said it meant everything to be back

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

The third and last day of the Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, the ones who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions, began at the Kamloops Indian Residential School on June 11 and stopped on June 13 outside the Adams Lake conference centre near Chase. The third day began about 10.5 kilometres from the centre and when it was complete, a closing ceremony was held. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

First Nations in and beyond Secwépemc territory join in to honour residential school survivors

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

(Facebook/Kelowna Cabs)
Kelowna Cabs reaches tentative agreement with dispatchers union

The tentative agreement could help end the dispute between the taxi company and the dispatchers

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

201 First Street West 1980s. Prior revitalization. (Photo from Revelstoke Museum and Archives)
Man who redesigned downtown Revelstoke honoured with lifetime achievement award

Robert Inwood has worked on historical projects across the province

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

A heart of ribbons is seen on the fence of Highroad Academy along Chilliwack Central Road on Friday, June 4, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Orange Heart Memorial campaign launches in Vernon on National Indigenous Peoples Day

North Okanagan Friendship Center raising funds for bench, mural memorializing 215 discovered in Kamloops

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

Most Read