They dreamed of a new life, responding to Quebec’s call for health reinforcements, but they will have to give up on their plan to settle in a charming house in the Eastern Townships. Lucile Charrier, nurse at the Verdun hospital, and Thomas Bonnier, project manager, learned this week that their work permits will not be renewed. The French couple risk being expelled from Canada.

“It all ends like this?” This is what Thomas told himself when his girlfriend read him, in tears, the email from Immigration Canada.

The couple has been living in Montreal for two years. Lucile Charrier, 28, obtained a closed work permit with the obligation to work at the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal. Thanks to her, her 30-year-old husband got an open work permit and found a job in the construction industry.

“Our goal was to move to Bromont soon. We fell in love with the Eastern Townships. Lucile could have worked there as a nurse, ”says Thomas Bonnier, who had contacted a real estate broker to buy a property in the region.

When they applied for a work permit renewal last October, the Immigration Canada website offered Lucile two options: renew her closed permit or opt for an open permit, says Thomas Bonnier. In order to move to Bromont, the couple opted for the open permit.

Thomas Bonnier said he was disappointed and discouraged. “We don’t know why. We don’t understand. We sent all the documents,” he said.

“In France, there are all the time advertisements or sponsored reports that promote Quebec as there is work, security and a welcoming living environment. We are told: “French graduates, come! We have room for you!” »

“That’s what we did, but it’s getting complicated. It’s an obstacle course to stay on the territory, ”he underlines.

Since receiving the letter from Immigration Canada, Thomas Bonnier and Lucile Charrier no longer have the right to work in the country. Moreover, the nurse learned the devastating news as she left the operating room at the Verdun hospital. The nurse informed her superior who had her replaced on the spot. Thomas Bonnier also told his employer that he could no longer work. The couple have 90 days to settle their status.

Thomas Bonnier’s boss describes him as a hard-working and reliable person. “I think it’s a shame that we don’t give him a chance in Quebec,” said Nicolas Chénard when we contacted him. The owner of their home in La Petite-Patrie also spoke of a polite couple, who always pay their rent and keep the place “impeccably”.

Immigration lawyer Me Maxime Lapointe does not know all the details of this file, but he believes that Lucile Charrier should have applied for the renewal of a closed work permit. The open work permit, which allows you to change employers, is rather exceptional, says the lawyer. It is granted to the spouses of those who hold a study permit or a closed permit, for example.

“The open work permit is the exception. The norm is the closed work permit, ”underlines the lawyer.

“Now we are asking for 24 months of work,” explains the lawyer. It means that the day when the person who has a closed work permit can finally apply for permanent residence, he can no longer work, “he explains.

“We leave people on the sidelines by asking them to work 24 months instead of 12,” he denounces.

Since Thomas Bonnier and Lucile Charrier’s work permits have just expired, they can no longer apply for permanent residence. “They have to go back to square one and have an employer do an international recruitment process for them. Once they get their license, they will have to rack up months of work. It is sure that it is dramatic for them, ”drops Me Lapointe.

Immigration Canada would not comment “due to privacy laws.”