The Return of Incomplete Applications

25th Aug 2018 Comments Off on The Return of Incomplete Applications

Last updated on February 3rd, 2019

I have previously written in this blog about how Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC’) has adapted an exceptionally strict approach to returning applications for incompleteness.  I have also written in Policy Options about how frustrating this approach can be, because one of its main purposes appears to be to allow politicians to boast about reduced processing times, while ignoring the fact that the experience of individuals who are actually applying is actually often longer than previously. I wrote:

The current rigid triage system distorts a fair comparison of processing times. Suppose an individual applies to sponsor a spouse to immigrate to Canada and forgets to include in one of the forms the city where a non-accompanying brother was born. Previously, processing might have been delayed by two to three months while IRCC contacted the family, informed them of the mistake and requested they provide the information. Now, IRCC would instead return the application one to two months after it is submitted, and the family would have to resubmit. If some supporting documents have expired, they may have to reobtain them, and the process can easily take several months. Under the previous system, this delay would have added two to three months to the processing time. Under the Liberals’ triage system, technically there is no delay because processing doesn’t start until the application is resubmitted. So while the government can boast of reduced processing times, applicants are frequently worse off, and the time that it takes IRCC to approve their immigration applications is lengthened.

I should note that while the above paragraph criticizes the Liberal Government of Canada approach to returning incomplete applications, the previous Conservative Government of Canada essentially adopted (and indeed created) the same approach.

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Make Spousal Sponsorships Work to Reunite Families

25th Aug 2018 Comments Off on Make Spousal Sponsorships Work to Reunite Families

Last updated on September 21st, 2018

The following is an article that I wrote for Policy Options.

On February 14, 2018, Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), announced that the processing time for spousal sponsorship applications had been reduced from 26 months to 12 months in 80 percent of cases. The Minister attributed the reduction to a “Family Class Tiger Team” that had redesigned application packages and introduced workflow efficiencies.

What the Minister didn’t mention was that IRCC achieved its reduction in processing at least in part because it has established an unbelievably strict triage system for marriage-based immigration applications. As reported in several media outlets at the end of January 2018, this intake-management system has in many instances left Canadian families in limbo, caused people who were legally in Canada to lose their status and impeded the ability of the foreign-national spouses of Canadian citizens to work.

On the same day that the Minister made his announcement, IRCC issued an Operational Bulletin stating that effective March 15, 2018, IRCC would return as incomplete applications that do not include a detailed form listing personal and address history, and police certificates from countries where applicants have lived. These forms and police certificates were previously required but not subject to the triage system.

This triage system makes it difficult to accurately compare application processing times and, more importantly, it creates unnecessary and unwarranted hardship for Canadians seeking to reunite with their families.

The drive for faster processing times 

It is true that under the former Conservative government, processing times for spousal and common-law sponsorship applications were generally slower than they currently are.

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