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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Live Well Exercise Clinic CEO Sara Hodson and Trevor Linden’s Club 16 partner Carl Ulmer are pushing for gym memberships and services to become tax deductible. (Contributed photo)
Semiahmoo Peninsula fitness pros leading charge on tax-deductible gym memberships

Live Well Exercise Clinic CEO Sara Hodson pitched idea to deputy prime minister

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service hires first three inspectors as ‘next layer of leadership’

Three men have more than 80 years of combined experience

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey man found guilty in 2018 murder of his wife

Rizig Bona’s next court date is today

Whalley Chiefs general manager Paul Hargreaves in the stands at the club's diamond at Whalley Athletic Park. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey baseball clubs prep for spring games as COVID threatens another season

‘I’m really excited about this year, because we have the troops in place,’ Whalley Chiefs GM says

Scales of Justice
Court awards woman $167K after vehicle was struck by White Rock taxi in 2016

Plaintiff’s knee injuries and resulting chronic pain disability are genuine, judge rules

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of deceased Vancouver Island Hells Angels prospect to be divided between wife and secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The centre and left lanes just west of the Brunette Exit were blocked westbound on the Trans Canada Highway the morning of Friday, March, 5, 2021. (Drive BC)
UPDATE: Vehicle incident westbound Highway 1 in Coquitlam cleared

Earlier the centre and left lanes were blocked in the area

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Most Read