With money from his family and profits from the skin care business he ran in Syria, Elias Sabee applied for the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program in 2008.

He invested $120,000 in cash into the province’s economy through Desjardins Trust Inc., an intermediary, and took out a loan to finance the balance of the required $400,000 total to meet the threshold of the immigration program in exchange for permanent residency. Then the waiting began.

As Syria plunged into a full-scale civil war in 2011, the 62-year-old businessman became desperate to get himself and his family to safety in Canada and repeatedly hounded Canadian immigration officials for updates on the application

That ended last November when Sabee was killed in a bombing. He had remained at his home in Aleppo with his wife to guard his property after smuggling his children out of Syria.

Now his wife and three grown children — all refugees in limbo across France and Germany — are fighting to get a refund on his investment in Canada after immigration officials rejected the family’s application because the principal applicant is no longer alive.

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