New Streamlined Spousal Sponsorship Program is Causing Delays Due to Government Errors
In 2016, the Canadian Government announced it would cut processing wait times for spousal-sponsorship applications. This move aimed to make the application process easier for Canadians and their families by fast-tracking permanent residency for foreign-born spouses.
However, some immigration lawyers have noticed that, since this announcement, more of these applications are erroneously being returned as incomplete. In several cases in particular, it appears that government errors are to blame. In turn, these errors cause delays and (sometimes) multiple denials.
Key Details and Documents Unseen
Fast-tracking appears to have come with a cost. To speed up processing times, immigration officers seem to be reviewing applications too quickly, missing key information in the process. In some cases, immigration officers have missed included documents entirely.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officers are denying and returning applications, citing missing required documents. However, these required documents remain inside the returned applications. In some cases, though, the documents aren’t returned at all. It’s lucky, then, that the immigration lawyers submitting these applications are making copies of all pertinent documents.
It appears that IRCC officers are making quick judgments to stick to faster process times, only giving applications a cursory glance. This results in erroneous judgments, in turn causing unnecessary stress for applicants and their families. It’s hard not to view such events as the result of the fast-tracking announced in December 2016.
Prior to the announcement of the streamlined spousal sponsorship program, processing times were around 24 months on average. The new wait time halves that, aiming for a 12-month wait time.
Wrongful Denials Increase Wait Times
But in the cases of errors and the wrongful return of applications, applicants may experience further (and far more stressful) delays, especially when applications are denied multiple times. As such, it seems that (at least for some applicants) the new system is not making it easier as intended. During the wait time and reapplication process, visas expire, leaving applicants unable to work.
Critics have suggested the government set up an online application system to mitigate the effects of human errors and also to minimize the risk of applicants submitting incomplete applications. This would provide an easy and fast check for immigration officers, ensure application submissions that include all required documents and information. The IRCC is not currently considering an online application system for spousal sponsorship.
So, until they address the causes of these errors and make a necessary change to the system, more Canadians and their families will likely experience the stress and uncertainty of wrongful returns and delays of their spousal-sponsorship applications.