Environmental Overview – Abu Dhabi

Meurrens LawImmigration Trends

The following is a summary of the Environmental Overview of the immigration functions at the Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi (the “Environmental Overview”).  The Environmental Overview was prepared as part of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada 2015-2016 planning exercise, and is current as of March 2015.


The Canadian High Embassy in Abu Dhabi (“CIC Abu Dhabi”) provides visa services to residents of Yemen and the six Gulf Cooperation Council (“GCC”) countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Due to continued unrest in Yemen, this office has not been able to conduct an area trip there since spring of 2010. We are unable to predict when we will be able to resume travel. This has created a large inventory of cases in Yemen, primarily refugees. Serving temporary resident applications from Yemen presents a challenge in itself. Yemeni citizens cannot easily travel outside the country, and they must provide biometrics. Getting documents in and out is also difficult because some couriers have suspended their services in Yemen.

Area trips to Saudi Arabia are subject to all restrictions applicable to that country, such as that women must have their heads covered and must be accompanied by a man in all public places.

Quality Assurance

CIC Abu Dhabi shares work with the visa offices in London and Riyadh on a regular basis.  London is responsible for Federal Skilled Worker Program applications and business applicants residing in the Gulf.

This sharing agreement sometimes confuses clients who do not fully understand how this matrix works. In addition, we have shared cases with other offices in order to use the international network to its full potential..

Permanent Resident Program

In 2015, CIC Abu Dhabi’s target for visas was 2,945.  This represented an increase of 30%, which was largely a result of higher targets for Quebec Skilled Workers, provincial nominees, and family class applicants.

Overall, this is a very significant increase. In many ways, it is an exciting opportunity for the office to grow and realize its full potential. In order to position ourselves better, we have undertaken a number of initiatives to render our processing more efficient, such as establishing standard operating procedures, more efficient use of GCMS, bundling document requests during processes instead of sending them piecemeal, having more carefully targeted security screening initiatives, asking for medicals and RPRF earlier in the process, etc. This is resulting in more streamlined processing and will put us in a better position than in previous years towards our overall objectives.Economic immigrants represent approximately 49% of CIC Accra’s inventory.  Approval rates in 2012 were 75%.  Processing times for 80% of the total economic class cases finalized in 2012 was 31 months.

Despite all these efforts and initiatives, there is only so much that can be done with the available resources. We will be stretched to the limit if we are to meet the 2015 target, particularly because we have been facing a steady surge of TR application intake of about 20% per year, and there isno reason to expect that this will slow down in 2015. Higher TR numbers, particularly during the busiest season (April through August), mean that officers normally involved in PR processing sometimes have to be diverted to TR work to meet tighter deadlines.

In the Family Class, CIC Abu Dhabi faces unique issues in determining intention to reside in Canada.  As well, permanent residency determinations are a complicated area, with residency fraud remaining a significant concern.  In 2014 there were 811 applications for Permanent Resident Travel Documents.  The refusal rate was 44%.

Temporary Resident Program

Abu Dhabi processed just over 26,000 TRV applications in 2014, representing an increase in output of nearly 20% over 2013.  TRV applications were received from 113 different nationalities. Host country nationals (UAE) account for less than 6% of our clientele.  In 2014, the approval rating was 71%.

Since the release of GCMS version 7, we have faced regular spontaneous shutdowns, system crashes, and general slowness of GCMS, which is having a negative impact on our processing speed and efficiency.

The introduction of eApps has had a positive impact on registry workload, but a serious negative impact on the amount of time an officer must spend on each case.

The full report is below.  Please note that this report did not occur with the affiliation of the Government of Canada, and the report was obtained through an Access to Information Act request.