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Iranian family living in Ottawa faces homelessness after falling out of status

An Iranian family living in Ottawa is desperately pleading for help and struggling to stay in Canada with their two young kids, after falling out of status and losing their jobs.

Hamid Ahmadpanah and his wife Shohreh Aghababaei arrived in Canada nine years ago; but now failed work permit extension applications have them falling through the cracks and running out of options.

A series of pictures hanging on the wall of their Vanier apartment tell the story of a happy family, with two young girls - 15-month-old Kayla, who just wants to play with her toys, and five-year-old Amelia, who is in Kindergarten.

But mom and dad are quietly struggling, desperate to stay in Canada.

"We started selling our stuff to help spend for our life," Ahmadpanah said.

"We cut the corners as much as we can, but now since yesterday I got terminated from employer."

The couple have been confused by Canada's immigration rules. Their work permit extension applications have failed, they were told in January they lost their status, and now they can’t work.

"I don't know what should I do. I got education, I got my engineering degree, I wanted to be a normal family, at least have a facility for my children," Ahmadpanah said.

Immigration lawyers say this is a common problem.

"Sometimes it can even be a mistake from the government," immigration lawyer Chantal Desloges told CTV News Ottawa.

"But more often than not it's the applicant who has misunderstood some small little obscure exception to the rule and, unfortunately, the system is not forgiving and requests for some sympathy often fall on deaf ears."

Ahmadpanah said they both lost their jobs and are now preparing to live on the street.

"Next month, I don't have any money. I can't pay anything; I have to be homeless with my two children on the street," he said.

Aghababaei said they are their taking steps to prepare the kids.

"Spending more time outside with your kids to get them used to, in case we have to be homeless with two kids in the summer, in the hot weather," she said.

Even though their daughters are Canadian citizens, their five-year-old cannot even register for school next year.

"They asked us to upload status, but we don’t have status, we don’t have any documents," said Aghababaei.

A permanent residency application was started two years ago but that’s still being processed. A new work permit application would take until 2024, they’ve been told.

"Every day she's crying," Ahmadpanah said about his wife, who said, "We came here to have a better life."

"Every day if someone, friends call and ask what happens, she starts just crying. In fact, we get a deep depression now," added Ahmadpanah.

A return home to Iran, under a dangerous regime, isn’t an option either. The family fears what could happen to them there.

"I'm trying my best to be strong for our daughters, because we have to, but it's not easy," said Aghababaei.

So this family is left in limbo with no work, no help, and maybe, next month, no home.

The family says they have contacted Ottawa-Vanier MP Mona Fortier. CTV News Ottawa reached out to Fortier's office, but the Treasury Board president wouldn't comment.

Immigration Canada says it cannot comment on specific cases. Top Stories

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