Policy Changes, Clerical Errors, and Communication Failures by Citizenship and Immigration Canada Making Immigration Harder than Ever
Immigration lawyers in Canada have had their work cut out for them in recent years. Amidst extraordinarily long wait times for processing applications, cases being permanently closed at the fault of errors on the side of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and changing rules and regulations that seem to critics and would-be immigrants alike to only create further roadblocks, becoming a resident of Canada seems now to be harder than ever for all but a select and fortunate few.
Last month, a damning two-part article appeared in the Toronto Star, chronicling the stories of the struggles of several individuals trying to gain access to the country as permanent residents or citizens, only to have their cases mishandled or to be punished for minor application errors. In some cases, applicants weren’t informed of the status of their applications, or had their applications denied due to their failure to follow up on requests for additional information—requests which, in the cases outlined in the article, were never received in the first place.
In one case, that of 76-year-old Nevenka Momcilovic, after a seven-year wait on a family sponsorship application, she is facing deportation after a simple error made on her application to renew her temporary visitor visa. Momcilovic’s husband died in Croatia in 2007, after which her son Djordje, a 48-year-old Canadian citizen, invited his mother to live with him. It was then that they began the process of sponsorship, which already takes as much as 47 months to process when sponsoring parents or grandparents.
Last year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada raised the application fee for a temporary visa from $75 to $200, a fact of which the Momcilovic family were unaware. Now the CIC refuses to re-open the case, which was closed after this small and not-unreasonable error.
Immigration lawyers in Canada are seeing similar cases all over, where cases are either caught in limbo for years (sometimes even longer than their already-too-long estimated wait times) or are terminated after clerical errors on the part of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
These difficulties faced by immigrants are variously preventing family reunification (and in some cases leaving family members, including small children, stranded in conflict regions), making it impossible for people to perform their jobs or attend the schools that they have paid expensive tuitions at, and made legitimate marriages between people from different countries incredibly difficult affairs. While immigration lawyers in Canada do all that they can to assist people in need, many critics are calling for changes to ensure that people have a fair chance in the system in the future.