Immigrants say their lives are in limbo as pandemic blocks their path to citizenship

Certainly, Canada has performed worse than Australia, with only about 7,000 online ceremonies, or about one-tenth of Australia’s (the issues regarding online testing, as highlighted by those in the article, are more complex given integrity concerns):

Six months after the federal government cancelled citizenship tests due to COVID-19, many immigrants say they fear a growing backlog in the citizenship queue will delay indefinitely their goal of becoming Canadians.

Before the pandemic hit, the entire citizenship process took an average of 12 months. Now, applicants say they have no idea when in-person tests will resume — and they’re calling on the federal government to hold online or physically distanced exams.

Myrann Abainza came to Canada from the Philippines as a live-in caregiver in 2009 and was joined by her husband and two daughters six years later.

Her family was on track to obtain citizenship when COVID-19 struck. Frustrated by the delay and a lack of information from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), she said the government should find a way of holding in-person tests that respect public health guidelines.

“If schools are reopening, why not?” she said.

“It is very important for me because I’ve been waiting for this for a very long time. It’s my dream. It’s my dream to become a Canadian citizen.”

IRCC’s website states that as of March 14, all citizenship tests, re-tests, hearings and interviews are cancelled due to the pandemic. Citizenship ceremonies were also halted at that time but have resumed since as virtual events.

IRCC told CBC News it is looking at alternatives to provide citizenship tests but offered no timeframe.

Immigration department ‘considering options’

“The department is reviewing operations and considering options for resumption of services, which could include online citizenship tests,” said department spokesperson Beatrice Fenelon.

Tests and interviews are critical steps that must be completed before someone can become a Canadian citizen. Citizenship allows a newcomer the right to vote and obtain a passport, and also gives many a sense of security and permanent belonging.

Basel Masri, who arrived in Canada as a refugee from Turkey after fleeing conflict in his home country of Syria, is one of those whose path to citizenship has been stalled by the pandemic.

Like many of the citizenship applicants CBC contacted for this story, Masri checks the status of his application through an online portal every day — only to learn that his file is still “in process.”

Masri said much of his anxiety is due to a lack of information coming from IRCC.

“Is it going to be for two years now, the processing time? Nobody knows,” he said.

“All the time you think about your application, you think about your passports, you think about your citizenship, you think about so many things. You think about your family.”

A push for online tests

Now that IRCC has started virtual oath-taking ceremonies, Masri said it should be able to securely administer online citizenship tests.

According to figures provided by IRCC, nearly 7,000 online oath ceremonies have been conducted since the pandemic struck, with more than 17,500 people being sworn in as new citizens.

The department is now ramping the number of oath ceremonies and allowing multiple participants in each event, to reach a target of 2,000 new citizens per week. In 2019, an average of 4,738 new citizens were sworn in every week at in-person ceremonies, according to IRCC.

Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Zool Suleman said the global pandemic has slowed down immigration processing times across the board.

While in-person citizenship tests might be possible, he said, officials would have to take precautions to keep the test-takers and the staff administering the tests safe and comfortable.

But delivering a virtual test would be even more challenging, since IRCC would have to verify the identity of the person taking the test and ensure that the answers aren’t being provided by a third party.

Many people have argued that if schools and universities can operate virtually, citizenship tests could also be held online. But Suleman said the stakes are particularly high with the citizenship test.

Risks with virtual tests

“I think an online test would be considered risky for Canada immigration because it leads to a very important right for people when they become citizens,” he said. “So there would be some concern that there would be an abuse of any kind of non-secure process.”

Ottawa-based immigration lawyer Julie Taub said the technology is there to conduct virtual tests, but agreed that IRCC would need to take steps to ensure the integrity of the process.

“It’s hard to find a foolproof way if you do it online to ensure they’re not cheating,” she said.

Taub said many of the delays in the immigration process are caused by staff working from home due to the pandemic. She said that’s led to much frustration among immigrants attempting to access services.

Olga Lenchenko has been in Canada for six years. She arrived from Ukraine when her husband accepted a job as an accountant.

Their citizenship test was scheduled for the end of March, then cancelled due to COVID-19.

She said she has mixed feelings about the situation. She said she understands the health threat posed by the coronavirus but she feels the lack of movement on testing is unfair.

“It’s been six months and we haven’t received any updates. It is very hard emotionally to be in limbo,” she said.

“We’ve been dreaming about the day we become citizens. Now, all the thrill is gone.”

Source: Immigrants say their lives are in limbo as pandemic blocks their path to citizenship

Be in Canada, bring scissors; instructions for online citizenship ceremonies Canada is now holding citizenship ceremonies online, so some new guidelines have been put in place.

Further to my earlier post, contrasting Australia’s 60,000 to Canada’s 1,000 new citizens over the past 3 months or so, @canadavisa_com flagged the new guidelines for online ceremonies:

Canada is not letting the coronavirus pandemic rob immigrants of their special day, but since citizenship ceremonies now take place over Zoom, a few changes have been made.

Canadian citizenship ceremonies are meaningful, important events in people’s lives, so Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) created new instructions for soon-to-be citizens who are taking their oath online.

IRCC will provide all the details of the citizenship ceremony in an invitation letter. It will include the date, time, Zoom link and log-in instructions.

Even though everything is being done online, you have to be physically in Canada in order to take the Oath of Citizenship. IRCC will ask you to confirm your location before you can participate in the ceremony. If you are not physically in Canada, you may have to do the citizenship ceremony once you are back in the country.

Though there’s no strict dress code IRCC says to dress “respectfully.” Wearing religious or traditional clothing is acceptable, though face coverings may be requested to be removed temporarily for identification purposes. Casual hats are discouraged.

You can sit for the entirety of the ceremony, even when saying the oath, but IRCC asks to choose a quiet room for the Zoom call. They recommend a room free of noise and distractions, and to have a plain background.

Your head and shoulders should be visible, and your hand-held device should be stable.

You’ll need a number of documents such as your permanent residence card, whether it’s expired or not, or your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR). You will also need two pieces of ID, unless you’re under the age 18. Some people will need their record of landing if they came to Canada before June 28, 2002. IRCC will also send you a form to sign after you have taken the oath.

And of course, you’ll need scissors to cut up your permanent residence card on-screen, since you won’t be needing it anymore.

You also have the option to bring a holy book if you want to use it to swear the Oath of Citizenship.

Canada postponed citizenship ceremonies scheduled for the last two weeks of March following coronavirus closures and switched to holding the events online by April. On Canada Day, July 1, IRCC reported over 1,000 citizenship ceremonies had taken place online since the start of the pandemic.

They even held their annual Canada Day citizenship ceremony online. For the first time ever, 19 participants took the oath at the same time from all over Canada.


Australian citizenship up by 60 per cent this year despite COVID-19 with highest number on record

One has to ask why Australia was able to maintain its citizenship program through virtual ceremonies (60,000) and Canada was not, despite recent ramping up in June and July (about 1,000).

Given that COVID restrictions on larger groups are likely to remain for some time, IRCC needs to continue to ramp up its capacity for online ceremonies even if they are not ideal and less meaningful than in-person events:

More than 200,000 people have pledged their allegiance to Australia and become new citizens in the past 12 months.

In the 2019-20 financial year, 204,817 people were conferred Australian citizenship – a 60 per cent increase on the previous financial year and the highest number on record.

Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said citizenship was an important part of Australia’s success as a socially cohesive, multicultural nation.

“Becoming an Australian citizen means more than just living and working here – it’s a pledge of allegiance to our nation, our people and our values,” Mr Tudge said.

“When someone becomes a citizen, they make a pledge to uphold Australia’s rights, liberties, laws and democratic values. It represents a willingness to integrate into our successful multicultural nation.”

“Being an Australian citizen is an immense privilege, which brings both rights and responsibilities. I congratulate all those who have taken this important step.”

The Government moved quickly to start online ceremonies when COVID-19 restrictions forced in-person ceremonies to stop, and to date more than 60,000 people have been conferred citizenship this way.

Small in-person ceremonies resumed on 3 June. Online ceremonies will also continue for the foreseeable future for councils unable to host in-person ceremonies in a COVID-safe way.

The Department of Home Affairs has also resumed citizenship interviews and testing, in line with COVID-19 health advice. Small numbers of appointments have begun in Perth and Sydney and more will be rolled out in other locations as soon as possible.

Source: Australian citizenship up by 60 per cent this year despite COVID-19 with highest number on record

Canada tells most international students not to come until travel ban is lifted

Effect on economy will be significant:

International students have been told not to make travel plans to Canada until after Ottawa’s border restrictions are lifted.

In the latest update of its program guidelines, the federal immigration department said Tuesday that international students will not be allowed to enter Canada if they have received a student visa after the country’s border lockdown on March 18.

Even those who have a valid study permit from that date or earlier will be denied entry unless they can prove their travel is “non-discretionary or non-optional.”

“While many Canadian college and university campus locations are closed, classes are generally continuing online. Travel will be deemed discretionary or non-discretionary depending on individual circumstances,” said the advisory.

In 2019, more than 650,000 international students studied in Canada at the post-secondary level. The sector contributed more than $21 billion to the Canadian economy through students’ spending and tuition fees, which are two to three times higher than their domestic peers. The largest cohort of the students usually arrives in the fall.

To ensure Canada remains a competitive destination of choice for international education during the pandemic, the federal government is allowing students to count the time spent pursuing their studies online abroad toward their eligibility for a post-graduation work permit.

If they have submitted a study permit application and if at least half of their program is completed in Canada when the border reopens, they will be eligible for the work permit, which many international students count on as an ultimate pathway for permanent residence.

“The pandemic has had a significant impact on international students and the Canadian institutions and communities that host them. This is why we have implemented a series of measures to support them,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said earlier.

“We value the contribution of young people seeking a high-quality education in Canada, and we’re making every effort to minimize how current challenges affect their plans and dreams for the future.”

Despite the special COVID-19 measures, international students have complained that schools still require the same hefty tuition fees for online programs, which present other challenges regarding time-zone differences. Some students may have to stay up for their class in the wee hours from their home countries.

Sarom Rho, a migrant student worker organizer, said Ottawa has been tone-deaf to the needs of international students, who have been asking for a tuition freeze and work permit extension, among other things that could help them through the pandemic.

“International students are disappointed with these announcements,” said Rho of Migrant Students United. “The government’s response is geared towards maintaining international enrolment and fees as a source of revenue to keep schools operating. It’s disavowing its responsibility to the quality of education for these students.”

According to the immigration department’s updated guidelines, border agents have the final say in admitting arriving students.

Students must prove their presence in Canada is necessary for their continued participation in their program, such as in labs and workshops, or prove that pursuing online studies is not an option for their school or program or not possible from their home country, for example, due to internet restrictions or bandwidth limitation.

Like all travellers, international students who enter Canada must undergo the necessary health checks and self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Some universities and colleges have issued support letters to incoming international students advising them to take extra precautions before travelling to Canada because students are responsible for the costs of returning to their home countries.

At the University of Saskatchewan, for example, students are recommended to provide border agents support letters from the administration saying that “your studies cannot be completed online and you are expected to to start on-site.”

Trump administration rescinds rule barring foreign students from taking all classes online

A rare but welcome reversal of the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies:

Facing eight federal lawsuits and opposition from hundreds of universities, the Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded a rule that would have required international students to transfer or leave the country if their schools held classes entirely online because of the pandemic.

The decision was announced at the start of a hearing in a federal lawsuit in Boston brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs said federal immigration authorities agreed to pull the July 6 directive and “return to the status quo.”

A lawyer representing the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said only that the judge’s characterization was correct.

The announcement brings relief to thousands of foreign students who had been at risk of being deported from the country, along with hundreds of universities that were scrambling to reassess their plans for the fall in light of the policy.

Under the policy, international students in the U.S. would have been forbidden from taking all their courses online this fall. New visas would not have been issued to students at schools planning to provide all classes online, which includes Harvard. Students already in the U.S. would have faced deportation if they didn’t transfer schools or leave the country voluntarily.

Immigration officials issued the policy last week, reversing earlier guidance from March 13 telling colleges that limits around online education would be suspended during the pandemic. University leaders believed the rule was part of President Donald Trump’s effort to pressure the nation’s schools and colleges to reopen this fall even as new virus cases rise.

The policy drew sharp backlash from higher education institutions, with more than 200 signing court briefs supporting the challenge by Harvard and MIT. Colleges said the policy would put students’ safety at risk and hurt schools financially. Many schools rely on tuition from international students, and some stood to lose millions of dollars in revenue if the rule had taken hold.

Harvard and MIT were the first to contest the policy, but at least seven other federal suits had been filed by universities and states opposing the rule.

Harvard and MIT argued that immigration officials violated procedural rules by issuing the guidance without justification and without allowing the public to respond. They also argued that the policy contradicted ICE’s March 13 directive telling schools that existing limits on online education would be suspended “for the duration of the emergency.”

The suit noted that Trump’s national emergency declaration has not been rescinded and that virus cases are spiking in some regions.

Immigration officials, however, argued that they told colleges all along that any guidance prompted by the pandemic was subject to change. They said the rule was consistent with existing law barring international students from taking classes entirely online. Federal officials said they were providing leniency by allowing students to keep their visas even if they study online from abroad.

Source: Trump administration rescinds rule barring foreign students from taking all classes online

ICE: Foreign Students Must Leave The U.S. If Their Colleges Go Online-Only This Fall

Yet another Canadian advantage, short-lived should Trump be defeated:

Foreign students attending U.S. colleges that will operate entirely online this fall semester cannot remain in the country to do so, according to new regulations released Monday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

As college students across the United States and around the world contemplate what their upcoming semester might look like, the federal guidance limits options for international students and leaves them with an uncomfortable choice: attend in-person classes during a pandemic or take them online from another country.

And for students enrolled in schools that have already announced plans to operate fully online, there is no choice. Under the new rules, the State Department will not issue them visas, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not allow them to enter the country.

“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” read a release from ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program. “If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”

The agency said students already in the country and faced with a fully online course of study may take alternative measures to maintain their nonimmigrant status, “such as a reduced course load or appropriate medical leave.”

The rule applies to holders of F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant visas, which allow nonimmigrant students to pursue academic and vocational coursework, respectively.

More than 1 million of the country’s higher education students come from overseas, according to the nonprofit Institute of International Education.

Typically, foreign students are limited in how many online courses they can take and are required to do the majority of their learning in the classroom, according to immigration lawyer Fiona McEntee. Once the pandemic struck, students were given flexibility to take more online classes — but only for the spring and summer semesters.

“It’s an unprecedented public health crisis, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask for the allowances that they made to continue, especially given the fact that we clearly, quite clearly do not have a handle on the pandemic here right now, unlike other countries that have,” McEntee said. “This makes no sense.”

McEntee said the decision is especially puzzling given the value of foreign students, which is quantifiable economically.

According to an economic analysis by NAFSA: Association of International Educators, international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities contributed $41 billion and supported 458,290 jobs during the 2018-2019 academic year.

McEntee added that losing foreign students is a huge blow to university budgets, something that will impact domestic students as well. Similarly, the decision to attend classes in person impacts all students present.

“If students can study online successfully from an academic point of view, why are we forcing them to come into a situation where they could put their health at risk and also the health of their classmates at risk?” she asked.

Students attending schools operating as usual will remain bound by existing federal regulations that permit them to take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online.

Students attending schools implementing a hybrid model can take more online classes or credits, though their school must certify “that the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load this semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.”

The announcement comes as higher education institutions are releasing frameworks for reopening in the fall semester. Schools are preparing to offer in-person instruction, online classes or a mix of both.

Eight percent of colleges are planning to operate online, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is tracking the reopening plans of more than 1,000 U.S. colleges. Sixty percent are planning for in-person instruction, and 23% are proposing a hybrid model, with a combined 8.5% undecided or considering a range of scenarios.

Harvard University is one of the latest institutions to unveil its plans, announcing on Monday that all undergraduate and graduate course instruction for the academic year will be held online. Nevertheless, the university plans to bring 40% of undergraduates, including all freshmen, onto campus.

Harvard President Larry Bacow said in a statement emailed to NPR that the ICE policy is “a blunt, one-size-fits-all approach to a complex problem.”

“We must do all that we can to ensure that our students can continue their studies without fear of being forced to leave the country mid-way through the year, disrupting their academic progress and undermining the commitments—and sacrifices—that many of them have made to advance their education,” the statement said.

School reopening plans may be subject to change because of the evolving nature of the pandemic, especially with daily case totals continuing to break records in parts of the country.

In acknowledgment, the agency instructs schools to update their information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System within 10 days of making the switch to online-only classes.

Immigration lawyer McEntee, a former international student herself, said leaving for school can be challenging enough, not to mention during a pandemic and in a landscape of near-constant immigration restrictions. She called the new rule, both in substance and timing, “not right.”

“This is not the America that I think foreign students come to live in,” she said.

The American Council on Education, a higher education lobbying group, also condemned the rule change in a statement issued Monday afternoon. ACE President Ted Mitchell said the guidance “provides confusion and complexity rather than certainty and clarity” and called on ICE to rethink its position.

“At a time when institutions are doing everything they can to help reopen our country, we need flexibility, not a big step in the wrong direction,” he wrote. “ICE should allow any international student with a valid visa to continue their education regardless of whether a student is receiving his or her education online, in person, or through a combination of both, whether in the United States or in their home country, during this unprecedented global health crisis.”

Source: ICE: Foreign Students Must Leave The U.S. If Their Colleges Go Online-Only This Fall

ICYMI: International students studying online will still qualify for Canadian work permits

Appropriate flexibility. Looking forward to reviewing monthly data on study permits to assess impact:

International students who are forced to enrol in online courses this fall due to COVID-19 will still be eligible for postgraduate work permits, the federal government has announced.

The news is being welcomed by Canada’s education sector and experts, who say the move can help the country retain international students in uncertain times as borders are closed and commercial flights are reduced as a result of the pandemic.

“This is terrific news for students and for our province. It ensures students outside Canada who want to pursue the quality programs at Ontario’s colleges will get that opportunity this fall,” said Linda Franklin, president and CEO of Colleges Ontario, which represents the province’s 24 public colleges.

“We’re grateful the federal and provincial governments are supporting us during these challenging times.”

International education is a significant source of revenues for Canada, with international students contributing $21.6 billion in tuition and spending to the country’s GDP and supporting nearly 170,000 jobs in 2018.

As of Dec. 31, 2019, there were 498,735 post-secondary international students in Canada, which is a popular destination because it allows international students to work part-time during the school year and grants them work permits when they graduate as a pathway for permanent residence.

Under normal circumstances, international students from government-designated schools are issued postgraduate work permits that are good for one to three years, depending on the length of their studies. However, distance learning and time spent studying outside Canada don’t count.

Due to COVID, all post-secondary schools from coast to coast have moved their programs online and Ottawa had no choice but changed its criteria in order to retain international student enrolment and save its lucrative international education sector.

The confusion and uncertainty hanging over their studies already led many current and prospective international students to put their plan on hold and delay admissions for the May/June and summer term.

“International students who wish to eventually apply for Canadian immigration will want to capitalize on the opportunity to complete a portion of their studies in their countries of origin, while still being able to access the same benefits (the work permits) had they been required to physically study in Canada,” said immigration policy analyst Kareem El-Assal.

“The cost to study in Canada will decline for them, since they will not have to incur additional living expenses at the outset of their Canadian education.”

The Immigration Department announcement will be a boon for the slowing Canadan economy ravaged by the pandemic, said El-Assal, director of policy and digital strategy at CanadaVisa, an immigration website run by a Montreal-based law firm.

“The tuition that international students will pay will help to support jobs at colleges and universities across Canada,” he said. “International students will support economic activity in a number of ways once they arrive to Canada, through their spending, labour, and the taxes they will pay as workers.”

The Immigration Department said international students may begin their classes while outside Canada and can complete up to 50 per cent of their program via distance learning if they cannot travel to Canada sooner.

Students in this situation won’t have time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit for studies completed outside of Canada up to Dec. 31, it said.

Source: International students studying online will still qualify for Canadian work permits

Is there a better way to reunite families? Thousands left in lurch by chaotic immigration application process

Good balanced discussion regarding the challenges of devising a system that pleases everyone – or displeases everyone equally:

The chaos around a new application process to bring parents and grandparents to Canada has left advocates and would-be applicants wondering if there is a better — and more fair — way to reunite families.

The immigration department’s new first-come-first-serve online application process launched Monday saw 27,000 “expression of interest” spots snapped up in mere minutes, leaving tens of thousands of other potential sponsors frustrated and angry at being shut out.

“Whatever system we have, there’s always the question of fairness,” said Surrey, B.C., lawyer Marina Sedai, chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s immigration division. “No one can come up with a perfect solution that satisfies the needs of all Canadians.”

For decades, any Canadian citizen or permanent resident interested in sponsoring parents and grandparents could apply in an “all-in” system where they simply waited for their turn, based on the order applications were received. However, due to overwhelming interest and limited resources, the backlog had grown to 165,000 people and applicants had to wait for up to eight years for their relatives to arrive.

In 2011, the then-Conservative government suspended new applications for two years before reopening the process and, in 2014, imposing a cap of 5,000, to be accepted on a first-come-first-serve basis. Paper-based applications had to be sent by mail or registered courier to a single government processing centre in Mississauga and were assessed in order of their time stamp. Applicants complained that this forced them to spend large amounts of money on couriers each year in an attempt to make it into the top 5,000 spots.

In 2016, the Liberals raised the annual quota to 10,000. And in January 2017, Ottawa introduced the lottery process. Sponsors were asked to submit an expression of interest form, and from that pool, people were randomly selected to continue with the application process. That year, some 95,000 would-be sponsors vied for the 10,000 spots; only 6,020 applications were completed because some were deemed ineligible, others never completed the process, and multiple entries by the same applicants were discarded.

This year, applicants had to compete to fill out a 10-page interest-to-sponsor digital form and only the first 27,000 submissions were accepted. Based on the time of receipt, the first 20,000 eligible ones will be invited to submit a formal application for sponsorship.

A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said more than 100,000 people attempted to access the digital form when it went live online at noon on Monday but “no technical issues” were reported. In less than seven minutes, the quota of 27,000 was reached. Failed applicants took their frustration and anger to social media, blasting the government’s efforts.

Toronto immigration lawyer Clifford McCarten said people were unhappy with the old lottery system because they didn’t want to be subjected to a random process where they could miss out repeatedly and be separated from their family perpetually. “People want predictability,” he said.

McCarten offered three alternatives as possible solutions:

  • Taking in everybody and pre-screening them for eligibility before sponsors could bid for a place in the lottery;
  • A hybrid system where equal spots would be allotted for a lottery, for first-come-first-serve, and for humanitarian screening based on personal circumstances and factors such as the number of previous failed attempts;
  • A point system similar to one used to rank skilled immigrant applicants on personal attributes to decide which parents and grandparents were more deserving to come here.

Heather Otto, one of the would-be sponsors left in the lurch on Monday, said the good thing about the lottery was that everyone had an equal chance.

“They said it’s first-come-first-serve, but I was excluded right off the bat on Monday,” said the Toronto computer programmer, who would like to sponsor her parents here from South Africa. “I had everything ready by noon and started refreshing my computer every few seconds. By the time I saw the (apply) button at 12:08 p.m., it said the program had already closed.”

Otto said she wasn’t sure how a point system could work for parents and grandparents, but everyone interested in getting in the pool should be asked to pay the $1,040 fee ($75 for sponsorship, $475 for processing and $490 for the right of permanent residence) upfront so only serious applicants would get a chance.

Natalya Sakhno, another disappointed sponsor, said she preferred the lottery system to the mad-rush chaos on Monday, which ended up being a race of who had the fastest keystrokes and internet speed.

“Every system has its positives and negatives,” said the Toronto human resources professional, who wants to bring her father here from Ukraine. “It’s a gamble.”

Another failed applicant, Behnam Esfahanizadeh, said a real first-come-first-serve system is when the process is open to all and everyone waits in order.

“They just have to get the applications in line and let everyone wait for their turn,” said the Toronto IT consultant, who has made three unsuccessful attempts to bring his wife’s parents here from Slovakia.

Sedai said the debate over the “fairness” issue is bound to continue unless Ottawa is ready to raise the annual admission quota for parents and grandparents and deploy more resources to process applications.

Source: Is there a better way to reunite families? Thousands left in lurch by chaotic immigration application process