Couples in limbo demand audit of spousal sponsorship program

More processing delays at CIC, likely caused by more rigorous anti-fraud measures and the management issues related to shifting processing from one centre (Vegreville) to another (Mississauga):

Canadians caught up in Ottawa’s backlog in processing in-country spousal sponsorships are calling for an audit of the troubled program.

Processing times have tripled recently. Thousands of Canadians are now having to wait more than two years to acquire permanent resident status for their foreign spouses already living in Canada. That means living in limbo for the foreign partner, including not being allowed to take a job or access health care coverage.

A national online group called Canada Inland Spousal Sponsorship Petitioners says Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) must immediately establish “service delivery standards,” as recommended by the Office of the Auditor General in a scathing report in 2010.

“As a Canadian who has lived, worked and paid taxes here for 25 years, I just feel like a second-rate citizen,” said Malcolm White of Oshawa, who married wife Anne in 2011. The Birmingham, England, resident joined him here two years later and filed an application for permanent resident status in December 2013.

“There is no transparency or accountability with the system. Canadians’ spouses should have the first priority to live in this country,” White said.

Canadians have the option to sponsor a foreign wife or husband either from abroad or within Canada; many prefer to do it here, so they don’t have to be apart during the processing.

A spousal sponsorship is a two-stage process: the sponsor has to be assessed and approved before the foreign spouse can be screened for medical clearance, background checks and other verification.

Currently, inland applicants must wait 17 months — up from six months in 2013 — for stage one, and eight months longer for stage two.

And, not unexpectedly, some of the examples of couples caught up in these delays, do not fit the profile of marriages of convenience that the anti-fraud measures were intended to counter.

Couples in limbo demand audit of spousal sponsorship program | Toronto Star.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

One Response to Couples in limbo demand audit of spousal sponsorship program

  1. Marion Vermeersch says:

    I am not sure whether it is the government, bureaucracy or both, but this appears to be another example of the system using a heavy sledgehammer to kill a fly. How many fraudulent marriages would really be uncovered by putting so many good people through this frustration and expense? I do sympathize and understand their predicament. I hope that, once they do finally attain permanent residence and perhaps citizenship that it will not be removed again to satisfy some future government that decides this one should not have given it to them: if that happens, we’ll have more Lost Canadians to add to the numbers!

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