This week and over the next few weeks, I will address a number of question which the
Canadian Federal government has asked in a recent publication dealing with improvements to the current immigration system.
Clearly, to obtain permanent residence in Canada is not a walk in the park.
Let us look, first of all, at one of the key problems with family class applications with
respect to Canadian citizens or landed immigrants who wish to sponsor their parents to join them in Canada.
As the year 2015 was coming to an end, thousands of Canadian citizens were getting ready to ensure that all loose ends were tied up to meet the criteria for sponsoring their parents. Most of them had applied in previous years but were unsuccessful. In some cases, their applications were incomplete and they did not meet the criteria. But many of those who did meet the criteria were also unsuccessful as the quota of 5,000.00 was already filled.
Last year Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised on his election platform to take steps to re-open Canada’s doors and make reuniting families a top priority. “We will immediately double the number of applications allowed for parents,” he said. But to date, the doors still remain closed.
Let me tell you the heartbreaking story of one of my clients who is anxiously waiting to be reunited with his mother, a widow who lives alone in her country of birth. Her son is a well established Canadian citizen who has met all the criteria with respect to sponsoring his mother for permanent residence.
He submitted his application by registered mail on January 4, 2016, the first day of the opening of the program .His application was received on January 5, 2016 at 11:18am and signed by a clerk, as received. His application was also stamped by the CPC Mississauga office as having been received on January 5, 2016.
By undated letter received by our office on March 21, 2016, and postmarked on the envelope as sent on March 17, 2016, the sponsor was notified that his application was received after the cap was reached for 2016 and has not been accepted for processing.
In response, we sent a letter to the Immigration Minister, which was also copied to the CPC Mississauga office, requesting answers to our concerns which included the following:
- Why did it take over two (2) months for the sponsor to be notified that his application was not accepted for processing when the Application to Sponsor, Sponsorship Agreement and Undertaking was stamped by the CPC Mississauga office as having been received on January 5, 2016?
- What happened with this application package from January 5, 2016 to March 17, 2016?
- What processes are in play as to which applications are opened and reviewed before others?
- Is it necessary for a sponsor to hire a courier to stand in line for hours at the CPC Mississauga office to ensure their application is accepted in a timely fashion?
- Is having a courier a breach of natural justice for those who are not in a financial position to hire one and/or what about others who do not reside in the Greater Toronto Area – i.e. sponsors residing in other provinces such as Newfoundland or British Columbia?
The current processing procedures for this program are exclusionary to those sending their applications by mail. This sponsor in question now has to wait until the program re-opens in 2017 and based on the fact he sent his application package by mail, he will have to spend hundreds of dollars to hire a courier to stand in line for hours to ensure its receipt. But this in itself is not a guarantee, as there are no time stamps on mailed packages to ensure his package falls within the first 5000 completed applications received.
There are no publications of rules and procedures as to how an officer or officers decide which application to open first. What are the procedures.? Based on some of these facts, I find the program not regulated to scrutiny by applicant.
I would further suggest that the program should be open to all persons who are eligible to sponsor their parents. There should be no” income cap ” to sponsors as this may seem very unfair to most of them who, though they must prove that they are in full-time employment for more than three years, are unable to meet this criteria.
This will be a forward step towards the improvement of the immigration process as most sponsors are employed but because of their spouse and a few dependents cannot quality on the basis of income. Sponsors should also be allowed to access the program through humanitarian and compassionate grounds based on several factors in order to achieve the reuniting of families.
SUKHRAM RAMKISSOON is a member of ICCRC and specializes in Immigration Matters at 3089 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario. Phone 416 789 5756.