An elderly couple that has called Canada home for years is now under orders to leave the country, so they won't be a burden to the health-care system.

Michael and Janet Hollingsworth decided to move to Canada from Britain, after visiting their daughter in Saskatchewan in 2006 and 2007.

In 2012, they settled in Havelock, N.B., where they quickly grew to love their new community.

"We'd been in this house a week and people were knocking on the door with gifts saying 'Welcome to Havelock,'" Michael told CTV Atlantic.

In 2010, their daughter applied to sponsor the couple to become permanent residents. In the interim, they applied for visitor's visas and frequently checked on the status of their permanent residency application.

But now they may have to leave.

About a year-and-a-half ago, Michael's kidneys failed, and when they re-applied for a new visitor's visa, they were denied.

"(On) Christmas Eve, we received it in the mail stating that because of his health and everything else they wouldn't grant us a visitor's visa and we were to leave Canada immediately," Janet said.

"Mr. Harper said, at Christmas in his speech, 'Canada is a compassionate country.' So I'd like to see it be a compassionate country."

Michael requires dialysis three times a week, and the doctors in charge of his care have written letters saying that an interruption of his treatment could prove fatal.

The Hollingsworths have turned to their elected officials for help.

Back in April, MLA Sherry Wilson – who was also the parliamentary secretary for the minister of health at the time – forwarded a letter to the federal government stating that the couple wouldn't burden New Brunswick's health-care system.

The couple's daughter has also filed an appeal on their behalf.

Meanwhile, friends of the couple said they're disgusted at the way the two are being treated.

"It makes you ashamed that they've been treated like that in this country," friend Annie Cruickshank said.

Friends said the couple are active members in the community, with both of them volunteering at the legion to serve meals to veterans.

"They're Royal Canadian Legion Members; they are from our mother country," friend Carol Killam said.

Another factor complicating the situation is that Michael has learned he needs a transplant. However, he can't get on the waitlist until he's granted permanent residency.

With a report from CTV Atlantic's Jonathan MacInnis