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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

PR applications delayed

due to overseas dependents

by Michael Scott

Canada has been responding in a positive way to immigration shortfalls by enhancing application options for persons inside Canada. This news is welcome, but what about permanent residence applications for persons with overseas dependents? One of the worst kept secrets in the immigration world is that IRCC has been delaying processing applications of Canada Experience Class and Provincial Nominee Programs who are in Canada but have spouses and dependent children overseas.

There are numerous examples of CEC and PNP applicants who applied back in 2019 through paper-based submissions but are being delayed because of their overseas dependents. Consider applicants who married after submitting their permanent residence applications with a reasonable hope of reunifying their families inside Canada. Reunification of families is one of the major objectives of the Act.

A recent article in Canada Immigration News highlighted the plight of an in-Canada applicant who married abroad, returned to Canada pregnant and hoped to be reunified with her husband as part of her application for permanent residence. The husband abroad applied for an Open Work Permit based on his wife’s work permit and hoped to be reunited in Canada in time for the birth of their child but no success. His submission was refused because IRCC determined that he would not leave Canada before the end of his authorized stay. This is a common reason given for denying entry to spouses of foreign nationals. Couples need to be together especially at the time of the birth of their child but no success to date.

This very real case is one of many identified by author Shelvey Thevwenot in her article entitled “Canada put their immigration applications on hold for having dependents overseas,” in CIC News. Many PNP and Express Entry applicants in Canada who have overseas dependents are affected by this new practice. Applicants now receive an all too familiar notice from IRCC: “Regarding your application, as your dependents are overseas, the application will be placed on hold as we are only processing applications for Permanent Residency if all family members are in Canada. Unfortunately, we cannot be sure when travel restrictions will be lifted.” IRCC is officially sympathetic, but processing will be affected by variables such as differences in screening applicants inside Canada and overseas as well as because of travel restrictions in a COVID world.

Canada does have an ambitious plan to land 400,000 plus people in 2021 but also has a responsibility to protect the health and safety of all Canadians.

The pandemic has caused delays, restrictions, quarantine etc., and this in turn has impacted the reunification of families. We have only to look at the shortfall in landings in 2020 (184,370). The CEC and PNP families have joined with the challenges facing family members who have been approved on paper with a COPR (Confirmation of Permanent Resident) in their passports but cannot travel to Canada. We can now add the accompanying foreign dependents of CEC and PNP applicants to this growing list.

Jenny Kwan, the NDP immigration critic and member of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, commented to CIC News: “This simply does not make sense. These are people’s lives that the Liberal government is deliberately putting on hold. The lack of communication from the government on these files simply adds insults to injury.”

There are many victims of the pandemic, including immigration applicants, whose processing is being delayed as part of our restriction on admissions. Canada still has lofty goals, such as 400,000 plus landings for 2021, but the reality on the ground is that many permanent residence applicants are being delayed and impacted as we write. The solution is not simple. It includes modernization, streamlining, vaccinations at home and abroad, but first of all, communication. The government, and IRCC in particular, must be transparent and up front. No one questions the country’s need to be vigilant and protect us from disease and infection but be candid and tell it as it is. Immigration applicants and Canadians at large can handle bad news. This is something we have become all too familiar with in a world ravaged by a global pandemic.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: mscott.ici@gmail.com.

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