Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has taken recent steps to improve and expedite immigration applications. The new Express Entry immigration selection system, which was introduced two weeks ago, aims to process submitted applications within six months, and several new Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams have also come into operation. Additionally, applications are increasingly being processed online, with the aim of reducing errors and processing times.
While the future of Canadian immigration appears promising, there are several imperfections that have recently come to light. Internal government documents have revealed a high level of human error by CIC staff in Canadian immigration processing on applications for permanent residence, temporary work permits, and refugee status.
“Quality management” reviews, which were obtained by the Toronto Star newspaper earlier this month, provide a glimpse into the extent of these official errors. The documents reveal that, among other issues, staff have failed to use correct form letters, address missing documents, and provide accurate timelines. This could create unnecessary backlogs and delays, or even cost individual applicants a chance to live and work in Canada.
Some resourceful applicants have been able to correct errors, reapply, and correct problems before those problems cost them their chance of immigrating to Canada. Others were not as fortunate. Applicants have cited inconsistencies and a perceived lack of procedural fairness and clarity in the application processing by government of Canada officials.
In other instances, applicants who had submitted applications to CIC may not have been fully aware that errors had been made on their applications, leading to frustration and disappointment.
According to a review of 996 files handled at the Vegreville Case Processing Centre in Alberta, which deals with permanent residence applications, between November 1 and December 6, 2014, the quality management team found that of the 617 request letters sent to applicants:
- 13 per cent did not address all missing items;
- 23 per cent had either no timeline, an incomplete timeline, or did not mention the consequences of failing to reply to the request; and
- six per cent were either “not professional” or chose the incorrect template form.
Of 426 files that received a second review, decisions were still pending on 149 owing to errors made at an earlier stage.
Some individuals, including spokespersons from the Canada Employment and Immigration Union which represents a large number of CIC staff, have attributed the high error rate to part-time staff, who may not have the necessary training and experience needed in order to perform their duties to the highest possible standard.
“It is unfortunate to hear about immigration cases that, with some expert guidance, should have been relatively straightforward, but were delayed or rejected due to human error. People’s hopes and dreams are at stake here,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“In spite of this news, I would encourage potential immigrants to Canada to maintain a positive outlook about Canada — both the country itself and its immigration process. Canada continues to have one of the highest per capita rates of immigration in the world, a fact that is highly unlikely to change over the coming years.
“Very often, the problems faced by applicants when dealing with immigration officials can be dealt with, provided that the applicant has access to good information about his or her case and rights. For an applicant, retaining the services of an experienced immigration lawyer to represent him or her in an application for Canadian immigration could make the difference between huge disappointment on the one hand, and a new life in Canada on the other.”
To find out if you are eligible for one of over 60 Canadian immigration programs, please fill out a free online assessment today.
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